The producers of Gladiator were quite wary of its rough first script. So much so, in fact, that they asked star Russell Crowe to take on the project without reading the screenplay.
Crowe just revealed that Gladiator was pitched to him in this unconventional way, seeing as its production team was aware the script had major flaws.
Russell Crowe talks Gladiator with Jimmy Fallon
The 56-year-old actor, who played "Maximus" in Gladiator, discussed the story on Wednesday night's episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
"Gladiator was a unique experience because the script that they had was so bad," Crowe began to explain. But he revealed that he had secretly worked around the unusual script situation.
"The producer didn't know I'd actually already been able to get a copy. But the thing he said was, 'I don't want to send you the document we have because you won't respond to it'," he recalled.
The producers were bent on getting Crowe in their movie, however, and used the prestige of working with director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) as leverage.
According to Crowe, they said: "'I want to encourage you to have a meeting with Ridley Scott and here's the thing that I want you to think about: it's 180 AD, you're a roman general and you're being directed by Ridley Scott. Just think about that'."
Clearly, Crowe thought about it and never looked back. He and the legendary director "just clicked" upon meeting, the actor added.
"Twenty years later people still talk about [Gladiator]" he said. "That doesn't happen with every movie."
Despite the film's shaky origins, Gladiator went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe, the only Oscar win out of three nominations in his career.
The film launched the New Zealand-born Crowe's career on the international stage. It was also the first major role for actor Joaquin Phoenix, who played "Commodus" opposite Crowe's "Maximus."
Gladiator celebrated 20 years in 2020
As People noted, Crowe also marked the 20th anniversary of the popular 2000 movie in May. On his Twitter account, he referenced his character's well-known quote: "Strength and honour."