Barry Keoghan has dropped out of the Gladiator sequel

Barry Keoghan has dropped out of the Gladiator sequel
PHOTO: Instagram/Barry Keoghan

Barry Keoghan has dropped out of the Gladiator sequel.

The Banshees of Inisherin actor had been due to play Emperor Geta in Sir Ridley Scott's highly-anticipated sequel, but he has now stepped away from the project due to scheduling conflicts, and The White Lotus actor Fred Hechinger is in talks to replace him in the role.

Meanwhile, Deadline reports a string of new casting announcements for the film, including May Calamawy, Lior Raz, Peter Mensah and Matt Lucas, while Sir Derek Jacobi will be one of few returning cast members, reprising his role as Gracchus from the original 2000 blockbuster.

While many of the leading roles were offered to the cast, the director carried out an extensive search for the lead role of Lucius - the son of Connie Nielsen's character Lucilla and Joaquin Phoenix's Commodus from the original film - which ultimately went to Paul Mescal, and Moon Knight actress May had to go through a similar process, going through multiple auditions for her as-yet unnamed, but significant, part.

The new signings join a star-studded cast that also includes Denzel Washington and Joseph Quinn, while Pedro Pascal is also in final negotiations and Connie will return as Lucilla.

Russell Crowe has ruled out returning as main Gladiator character Maximus Decimus Meridius in the new project - which is due to be released in November 2024 - and explained that it won't be a "direct sequel" to the Oscar-winning original.

Speaking on the Fitzy and Wippa Podcast, he said recently: "Yeah we've had dinner and talked about it and all that stuff. So I know roughly how he's shaping the story.

"But yeah, if you remember, there was a young kid who wanted to beat the Gladiator, which leads to the 'My name is' speech. So that young kid has grown up, and he's now the Emperor.

"I don't know what else happens at that point, so that's the idea. So it's not a remake. And it's not a direct sequel. It's not like the day after, you know, 30 years later or something."

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