Russell Crowe’s Improvised Gladiator Scene Made His Revenge Story Deeper

Russell Crowe improvised one crucial scene in Ridley Scott’s
Gladiator, and it makes the impact of Maximus’ revenge story even deeper.
Gladiator was released in 2000 to healthy box office earnings and overwhelming critical success. 2001’s Oscar ceremony saw the historical epic take home five Oscars, including Best Actor for Russell Crowe and Best Picture. Over the years, the film hasn’t lost any of its influence, it still ranks 38th on IMDB’s top 250 films of all time, and an upcoming sequel,
Gladiator 2, is in the works 20+ years after its release.,What makes
Gladiator such a compelling, enjoyable film is that it’s a relatively simple tale about revenge, told in a powerful, personal way. Russell Crowe’s central character, Maximus Decimus Meridius, begins the film as a Roman general, longing for home, but soon is turned into a revenge-hungry gladiator, fighting for what he lost and for the freedom of Rome itself.
Gladiator perfectly blends these two goals by entangling them, with Rome’s Senate using Maximus to reinstate their power, and Maximus using the Senate to further his goals of revenge. However, while the film depicts real-life events of the Roman Empire, 
Gladiator is historically inaccurate in many ways.,Related: Was Gladiator’s Maximus A Real Person? Historical Influences Explained,Every good revenge story first establishes what the main character has to lose, and what it means to them before taking it away, so the audience understands the loss and its impact. 
Gladiator establishes Maximus’ connection to his home and family in its very first shot, showing him walking through the fields as children laugh in the background. The point is further cemented in his battle speech as he announces to his men, ”
Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops,” showing intention and anticipation to return.
 Gladiator hammers the point home in a scene between Emperor Marcus Aurelius (played by Richard Harris) and Maximus as they talk in private. The Emperor asks Maximus to describe his home, prompting a short description from Maximus as he talks about the fields, walls, and soil of his farm, he seems at ease for the first time as he speaks. This 
Gladiator scene was largely improvised by Russell Crowe and includes descriptions from Crowe’s real-life home in Australia, making the emotional connection and warmth in the scene all the more impactful while enhancing what follows.,The scene serves as the prelude to Maximus losing everything, setting up his revenge plot. Russell Crowe’s speech to Marcus serves as the emotional anchor for Maximus throughout. Shortly after the scene, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) slays Marcus Aurelius, becoming Emperor of Rome and deeming Maximus a traitor, and when Maximus escapes execution and returns home he finds it utterly destroyed and his family slain. The sights, smells, and peace that Maximus explained in the earlier scene are replaced by destruction, smoke, and death. Maximus, also known as the Spaniard, crumbles as all his aspirations for the future fall apart, leaving a chasm for the character who fought so long and hard only lose his home and family. This juxtaposition of hope and reality launches the rest of the film as the audience knows what Maximus has lost and what it meant to him. Brilliantly, Crowe uses his personal feelings to amplify the tragedy.,Visionary director Ridley Scott, who is a frequent collaborator with Crowe, has said that the
Gladiator star always plays a part in his characters, which can explain the blending of reality and fiction in that
Gladiator speech. Scott said, 
“As soon as we chose him for the role of Maximus, he began to read the works of Marcus Aurelius and get acquainted with the history of the Roman Empire.” This dedication and personal connection to the role can explain Maximus’ believable emotions in the Russell Crowe-led movie, and howhe deepened
Gladiator’s revenge plot to become one of the best in film history.,Next: Why Gladiator Killed Off Maximus At The End (& What The Original Plan Was)