Paul Mescal Trained to Look Like a "Warrior" Not an "Underwear Model" in 'Gladiator II'

This shouldn't make sense, but it totally does.

Paul Mescal attends the UK Gala Screening of "All Of Us Strangers" at BFI Southbank on January 23, 2024 in London, England
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paul Mescal didn't want to be too sexy in Gladiator II.

While the many of us with a gigantic crush on the actor would probably argue this was a losing battle from the get-go, Mescal has explained in a new interview with Vanity Fair that his primary goal when training for the action movie was to be strong, not necessarily to grow into a muscular sex symbol.

"I just wanted to be big and strong and look like somebody who can cause a bit of damage when sh*t hits the fan," Mescal explained. "I think also, sometimes, one could, in striving for that perfect look, end up looking more like an underwear model than a warrior."

I totally get what he means—is that normal?

The actor went on to explain why it was especially important to him while training not to focus on looks.

"Muscles start to grow, and that can be deemed aesthetic in certain capacities, but there is something about feeling strong in your body that elicits just a different feeling," Mescal said. 'You carry yourself differently. It has an impact on you psychologically in a way that is useful for the film."

It sounds like Mescal's costar Pedro Pascal bore the brunt of the Irish actor's hours in the gym, since their characters have to fight each other in the movie. "It’s brutal, man. I call him Brick Wall Paul," Pascal told Vanity Fair. "He got so strong. I would rather be thrown from a building than have to fight him again. To go up against somebody that fit and that talented and that much younger…. Outside of [director] Ridley [Scott] being a total genius, Paul is a big reason as to why I would put my poor body through that experience."

In the long-awaited sequel to 2000's Gladiator, Mescal and Pascal star alongside Denzel Washington, Connie Nielsen and Joseph Quinn. The movie is slated for release on Nov. 22, 2024.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.