We all know Nick Cave for his work with the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds. But in 2006 we found out he had a penchant for sword-and-sandal flicks when word broke that Gladiator star Russell Crowe had requested the singer-songwriter write a screenplay for a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 2000 epic — Cave did the writing, but the film was never realized. According to a new report in the Guardian, that rejected script has been unearthed by the musician’s fans, and it’s a real doozy.
Cave’s supernatural, century-spanning screenplay had to overcome one monumental snag: Crowe’s character Maximus didn’t survive the first film. So his script, which was reportedly too farfetched to secure studio backing, addressed the dilemma in a rather interesting manner — Crowe’s Maximus mixes it up with some Roman gods in the afterlife, and is eventually reincarnated to defend the early Christians. The plot also gave Maximus everlasting life, and injected the sandal-sporting general in the second world war and even had him involved, somehow, with the modern-day Pentagon.
The studios weren’t buying it. “Russell didn’t want to let it go, obviously, because it worked very well,” Scott explained in a recent interview with UGO. “When I say ‘worked very well,’ I don’t refer to success. I mean, as a piece it works very well. Storytelling, [it] works brilliantly. I think [Cave] enjoyed doing it, and I think it was one of those things that he thought, ‘Well, maybe there’s a sequel where we can adjust the fantasy and bring [Maximus] back from the dead.’ “
It’s not as though Cave’s a stranger to Hollywood. He co-wrote 1988’s Ghosts of the Civil Dead, 2005’s The Proposition and the forthcoming film Death of a Ladies’ Man, which is currently in pre-production.
“I’m very comfortable in my day job as a musician,” Cave once told Variety. “The last thing I ever wanted to get involved with is Hollywood. The way it works is that people get an idea you could possibly do something, but there’s a one-in-a-hundred chance that it could get made. It’s a waste of fucking time, and I have a lot to do.”