The cast of Gladiator now – tragic deaths, Madonna link and Strictly stints

Ridley Scott's Gladiator stormed cinema screens more than two decades ago, but it's still regarded as one of the best ancient drama Hollywood films of all time.

The epic Roman flick picked up five Oscars at the 73rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Costume Design, and Best Actor for leading man Russell Crowe.

Gladiator follows Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Crowe), who is forced into slavery and must fight for his freedom in legendary gladiator pits, where he faces the likes of armed thugs, chariots, and lions.

He is betrayed by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who murders his Roman emperor father and thwarts the elder's wish to leave the kingdom to Maximus by seizing the throne for himself.

Crowe's character thus embarks on a terrifying tale of vengeance as he hopes to seek justice for his murdered wife and child.

On the anniversary of the film's premiere, Daily Star has taken a look at where the star-studded cast went next.

Russell Crowe – Maximus

Russell played Roman general Maximus, who coins the famed line: "Are you not entertained?" in the gladiator arena.

The titular role was actually meant to go to Mel Gibson, but luckily for Russell, his Hollywood peer turned it down.

Crowe has gone on to bag a bucket-load of blockbuster film roles over the next 20 years, such as American Gangster (2007), biopic A Beautiful Mind (2001) and DC Superman flick Man of Steel (2013).

The BAFTA-winning actor also showcased his vocal talents as Javert in Les Misérables, but one of his more surprising stints came during last year's series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The actor spoke to contestants Tom Fletcher and pro dancer Amy Dowden via a video message after they danced to the Les Mis soundtrack, but it remains unclear whether he'll be putting on his dancing shoes anytime soon.

Russell was married to fellow actor Danielle Spencer between 2003 and 2018, and they share their sons Charles and Tennyson.

Joaquin Phoenix – Commodus

Joaquin played evil prince Commodus, who stole the rule of Rome after murdering his own father (Richard Harris).

Known for playing dark and eccentric characters, Phoenix picked up an Oscar nomination for his role as the prince, who tries to cheat his way to victory against Maximus in the arena but still gets slain.

But the actor won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his chilling portrayal of supervillain The Joker in the 2019 DC film of the same name.

He took a break from acting after his role in the romantic drama Two Lovers (2008), but he bagged stacks of awards when he returned, so it's almost like he never left the business.

Phoenix is a dedicated animal rights activist who has been vegan since the young age of three, and he's also produced documentaries on global meat consumption.

He shares a son with fellow actress Rooney Mara, whom he's in a relationship with.

Connie Nielsen – Lucilla

Connie Nielson played Lucilla, the ex-lover of Maximus and sister to Commodus who tries her best to ward off her brother's fury.

She told Refinery29 that she felt comfortable playing a strong woman on the set of Gladiator.

Connie said: "I will say that Ridley Scott really likes women, and really likes strong women. You can tell. I felt very comfortable when I did Gladiator being that strong woman."

The Hollywood starlet's recently turned her the DC Comic Universe as Queen Hippolyta in Wonder Woman and Justice League.

The actress dated Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich from 2004 until 2012, and the Danish pair share their son Bryce.

Djimon Hounsou – Juba

Djimon played Maximus' friend Juba, a tribesman sold into slavery who meets Crowe's character in the gladiator ring.

Before his Gladiator role, the ex-model starred in music videos with the likes of Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and Madonna.

His success didn't stop with Ridley Scott's fighting flick either, because he's bagged major films roles in the likes of Blood Diamond (2006), where he worked with Leonardo DiCaprio.

He received Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor for both films.

The star dated fellow model Kimora Lee Simmons from 2007 until 2012, and they share their son Kenzo.

Oliver Reed – Pronto

Veteran actor Oliver Reed played Antonius Proximo, a slave merchant and ex-gladiator who fought his way to freedom.

Reed tragically died of a heart attack during production, before he finished shooting all of his scenes.

A digital body-double was made for the remaining scenes which reportedly cost around $3.2million (£2.6m).

Visuals effects supervisor John Nelson said of the job: "What we did was small compared to our other tasks on the film. What Oliver did was much greater. He gave an inspiring, moving performance. All we did was help him finish it."

Richard Harris – Marcus Aurelius

Richard Harris played the wise emperor Rome who tries to hand the rule of Rome over to Maximus.

However, Harry Potter fans might have known him best as Professor Dumbledore in the first two Hogwarts fantasy films, based on JK Rowling's books.

Richard passed away in August 2002 after being hospitalised with pneumonia and diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, so not long after his co-star Reed.

Spencer Treat Clark – Lucius Verus

Spencer played young Lucius Verus, the son of Lucilla who looks up to Maximus in the movie, much to the displeasure of his uncle Commodus.

The brain-box graduated from Columbia University after bagging a degree in politics and economics.

He looks remarkably different these days as a 34-year-old actor with shorter hair and a beard.

His screen career has seen him star in Unbreakable (2000) with Bruce WIllis, Mystic River (2003) with Sean Penn, and M Night Shyamalan's Glass (2019).

Derek Jacoby – Gracchus

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Sir Derek Jacobi was already a renowned actor before he appeared as Gracchus in Gladiator, who rebels against Commodus.

The thespian is a founding member of the Royal National Theatre who has starred in tons of Shakespeare plays and won countless awards.

He also famously starred as the titular character in I, Claudius (1976), which inspired the likes of Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin.

Jacoby was able to register his civil partnership with his long-term partner Richard Clifford – just four months after such partnerships were made possible in the UK in 2006.

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