The animal rights organisation PETA has been complaining about the production of the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 2000 historical epic, Gladiator. PETA alleges that the production of Gladiator 2 involved the mistreatment of animals during the shooting in the island European country of Malta.

PETA wrote letters expressing its concerns (which stemmed from reports from whistleblowers) to Ridley Scott, also directing the sequel, and its leading man, Pedro Pascal. The first letter dated 30th June 2023 was a plea to reconsider the use of wild animals, particularly primates. On 14th July, another letter was sent to Scott after unsettling reports emerged about a horse on the set suffering, allegedly from the intense Maltese heat. The letter pointed out that, “the film and TV industries have a past riddled with on-set horse injuries and even deaths. We sincerely hope Gladiator 2 avoids adding another death to that list.”

Pedro Pascal, the actor known for his roles in The Last of Us, was also approached by PETA, which expressed the same concerns shared with Scott and was a call against the use of real animals in film productions. The letter read, “Will you please join us in urging Mr Scott to stop using any real animals now or when filming commences should production fully come to a halt.” According to LA Times,  there has not been a public response from either Scott or Pascal addressing PETA’s concerns.

Gladiator 2 is about the life of Lucius, Paul Mescal’s character, who follows in the footsteps of Crowe’s Maximus after being inspired by his brave battles in the Colosseum as a youth. Russell Crowe will not be reprising his epic role from the first film, but new additions like Denzel Washington and Joseph Quinn from Stranger Things would guarantee the interest of the public. It would be interesting to see if this film shows the historical fact that gladiators did not eat meat.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.