Russell Crowe recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Gladiator, which won him a Best Actor Oscar

By Ale Russian
May 06, 2020 02:15 PM
Russell Crowe Gladiator
Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Russell Crowe got a little too close to a tiger while filming his classic film, Gladiator.

The actor starred in the 2000 Oscar-winning epic as Maximus, a man seeking revenge against Joaquin Phoenix’s character after his family is killed and he is forced to be a slave who fights in the Colosseum. The setting is also the backdrop for Crowe’s most quoted line from the movie, when he screams “Are you not entertained?” at the crowd of spectators who have gathered to watch people be killed in the fights.

Crowe, 56, went on to win a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, but that was after he went through a series of dangerous stunts while filming the movie. He looked back on the 20th anniversary of the movie for Variety's oral history.

"If you’re rolling around on the ground with gigantic sequences with hundreds of moves of choreography, you’re dealing with horses and tigers and other things that can go wrong, of course there’s gonna be injuries," Crowe said. "But when you’re younger, you’re made of rubber and you can bounce back again. I do remember saying to my mom when I got home from that shoot, she said: 'How do you feel?' I said, 'I actually feel like a football player who’s played one season too many.' "

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One of the harrowing scenes finds Maximus facing off against a tiger in the iconic Colosseum, which required Crowe to actually roll away from a real-life tiger, director Ridley Scott explained.

"[The tiger was] a big boy from tail to nose, eleven feet," Scott recalled for Variety. "You’ve got two guys on a chain with a ring in the floor to control it. Russell said, 'OK, release them' and when Russell would fall back, the tiger would come out of the hole and Russell would roll out of the way and he said, 'F— me, that was close.' And I said, 'We were there as well, Russell. Hey, you were two feet, I was like four feet.' "

But Crowe still remembers being in awe of the animal, even if it spooked him.

"It’s so beautiful, it’s so regal, and you’d love to be able to just pet them and cuddle them, but obviously that comes with inherent risk," the actor said.

Crowe also marked the anniversary of the release on Twitter, quoting another famous catchphrase from the movie.

"20 years ago today Gladiator was released in cinemas in the United States ... Strength and Honour ..." he wrote, recalling the line his character repeats throughout the film.