Ryan Reynolds Gets in on the “Roman Empire” Social Media Craze

The intensity in the gaze…

Ryan Reynolds
(Image credit: Marie Claire)

You’ve surely seen the viral Roman Empire trend circling on TikTok—and Ryan Reynolds has decided to get in on it, posting a selfie poking fun at the social media craze. (Seriously, why is this a thing?) Reynolds is joining what People calls “the legions of men” who have answered the question “How often do you think about the Roman Empire?” (TikTok, by the way, is chock full of women recording themselves asking the men in their lives how often the Roman Empire crosses their mind.)

Reynolds, going casual in sweats and glasses and what appears to be laying in bed, captioned the photo “Jus’ thinkin’ ‘bout The Roman Empire.” He also used the song “Roman Holiday” by The National to add music to the selfie, in which, People reports, “he makes intense eye contact with the camera.” (Reynolds, though, missed the whole point of the trend, not actually answering how much he thinks about said empire.) 

Ryan Reynolds takes a selfie

(Image credit: Instagram)

People reports that the trend began after Swedish Instagram user Arthur Hulu—known as Gaius Flavius online—shared an Instagram reel on August 19 that said “Ladies, many of you do not realize how often men think about the Roman Empire.” Since then, several male celebrities have either participated in or made fun of the trend.

In a TikTok interview at Gucci’s Milan Fashion Week show, Gladiator 2’s Paul Mescal answered the question by saying “I would say in the last six months, I’ve been thinking about the Roman Empire quite a bit. Other than that…I would say my dad thinks about the Roman Empire daily.” Hannah Brown of The Bachelorette asked her fiancé Adam Woolard the same question, and he replied, “Pretty consistently.” Why? Woolard said it is “constantly” on his mind because of martial arts and modern politics. “Men, to our core, I think are warriors,” he said in the TikTok. “You have to be ready for battle at all times, and the Roman Empire is all about battle. Common sense!” 

Carson Daly on the Today Show

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Roman Empire craze made it to Today, where host Carson Daly admitted to thinking about the ancient empire “every day,” adding that it “harkens back to Marcus Aurelius,” a philosopher and Roman emperor: “First of all, the movie Gladiator is in every guy’s top five favorite movies,” he said. “Joe Rogan’s podcast is wildly popular, and there’s this trend to have this modern understanding of ancient philosophies like stoicism, cold plunging is a big thing right now, keto.”

Professional sports teams are getting in on it too, sharing videos of their players answering the questions (a la the Charlotte Hornets and the Baltimore Ravens). Wide receiver Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers said “I don’t think about that! I don’t even know what that is” in a video on the team’s TikTok account. In a TikTok shared by the Philadelphia Eagles, center Jason Kelce—Travis’ brother—said “My wife asked me this question. Never. I don’t know how this became a thing. I don’t know if it’s, like, a big joke everybody’s playing.” 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.