(Photo: Getty Images)
This is not a drill: Normal People star Paul Mescal is lining up the lead role in Gladiator 2.
Deadline brings news that the Irish actor is director Ridley Scott's "top choice" for the role following a "fantastic meeting." Scott is returning to direct the sequel to his 2000 historical epic, which won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe.
Mescal won't be playing the same character as Crowe, Maximus, whose death provides the devastating emotional climax of the original film. Instead, he will portray a character called Lucius who is the son of Connie Nielsen's Lucilla. Mescal's character is said to be heavily influenced by Crowe's gladiator, though, because as a boy he watched Maximus save the life of him and his mother.
The high-profile role continues Mescal's impressive rise following his breakout performance as lovestruck student Connell Waldron in Normal People. He won a BAFTA for his performance in the hit BBC/Hulu miniseries and is now in awards contention again for his role in Aftersun, a poignant indie movie about a young father's difficult relationship with his daughter.
You can grab a flavor of Mescal's down-to-earth charm in this amusing clip from The Graham Norton Show.
Do you think Paul Mescal is perfectly cast in Gladiator 2?