Gladiator is an American historical epic film released in 2000 directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (his last film role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, and Richard Harris. Crowe plays the fictional and loyal character: the Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when the emperor Marcus Aurelius's ambitious son, Commodus, kills his father and takes the throne. To escape the fate of slavery, Maximus gradually gained fame in the arena and killed Commodus, avenging the deaths of his family and emperor.
In 180 AD, General Maximus Decimus Meridius led the Roman army to a decisive victory, driving out the German barbarians in Vindobona, ending the long war on the Roman frontier and gaining the trust of the elderly emperor Marcus Aurelius. Although he already had a son: Commodus, the emperor wanted to give Maximus temporary leadership upon his death, ultimately wishing to return power to the Senate. When Commodus' father told him of this decision, Commodus was bitter because his father favored Maximus over him, after which Commodus killed his father in anger and claimed the throne.
Maximus realizes the truth about Aurelius' death, but is betrayed by his friend, Guard Commander Quintus, who reluctantly instructs his troops to carry out Commodus's orders to kill Maximus and his family. Maximus killed the butchers to escape but was unable to save his family. Maximus was found unconscious after burying his wife and son, being led away among slaves and en route to Zucchabar, a Roman city in North Africa. There, he was acquired by Antonius Proximo and became a martyr in the arenas. During this time, he befriended two gladiators Juba, a Numidian, and Hagen, a German. Juba gave Maximus faith that he would see his wife and children again.
Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius
Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, the spoiled, immoral son of Marcus Aurelius.
Connie Nielsen as Lucilla, the widow, ex-lover Maximus and eldest daughter of Marcus Aurelius
Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus: One of those who disagreed with Commodus.
Djimon Hounsou as Juba: A Numidian, enslaved, he is Maximus' closest ally.
David Schofield as Senator Falco: a Senator opposing Gracchus. He helped Commodus consolidate his power.
John Shrapnel as Gaius, a Senator close to Gracchus. Tomas Arana as Quintus, A subordinate of Maximus during the Battle of Vindobona. Commanding Commodorus' Guards.
Ralf Möller as Hagen: A German warrior and gladiator trainer of Proximo, who later becomes friends with Maximus and Juba during their battle in Rome.
Spencer Treat Clark as Lucius Verus, son of Lucilla, named after his father Lucius Verus, grandson of Marcus Aurelius. David Hemmings as Cassius: Colosseum presenter.
Tommy Flanagan as Cicero: Maximus' loyal servant, Maximus' liaison. He was used as bait to lure Maximus into an ambush trap and was eventually killed.
Sven-Ole Thorsen as Tigris of Gaul, Rome's invincible gladiator, whose life was spared by Maximus in the arena.
Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius: Roman Emperor who appoints Maximus, who considers Maximus his own son.
Omid Djalili as a slave trader.
Giannina Facio as Maximus' wife.
Giorgio Cantarini as Maximus' son.