Russell Crowe Recalls the Original Script for 'Gladiator' Was "So Bad"

The actor joined the project after being told by director Ridley Scott what it could become.

The original script for Gladiator was such a mess, Russell Crowe was not supposed to be allowed to read it before he signed on to do the film. 

A guest Wednesday on The Tonight Show, the actor told host Jimmy Fallon he was talked into doing the 2000 classic based on what it could become — not what it was initially on paper. 

"Gladiator was a unique experience because the script that they had was so bad — it was just so bad," he told Fallon. "The producer did not know I was able to already 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. But I want to encourage you to have a meeting with [director] Ridley Scott. And here's the thing I want you to think about: It's 180 A.D., you're a Roman general and you're being directed by Ridley Scott.'" 

Crowe agreed to the meeting and said he was blown away by Scott, who laid out his vision for the film, which would go on to win the Oscar for best picture and nab Crowe a best actor Oscar. "We just clicked on that first meeting," the actor said, adding, "There was definitely a little bit of a risk involved with it at the time." 

Not having much confidence in the picture on day one of production, Crowe said that by the time the film wrapped, he knew they had done something special. "The collective energy of that cast was fantastic," he told Fallon.

Watch the entire segment below.