Q: What would you say that the extra footage in the DVD illuminates in terms of the story?
A: It illuminates a little more of Commodus’s (Phoenix) anger at and love of his father. Again, there’s a lot of Joaquin and I don’t like to use the phrase ‘twisted nature,’ but the complex nature of Commodus. There is an execution scene where he drags it up from the past, in the first act. If you remember, they were meant to go off and execute Maximus and of course Maximus dealt with everyone, but in so doing there were two officers involved who hadn’t reported that Maximus had got away because they were afraid of the Emperor. So this comes up at the end of the second or beginning of the third (act), where Commodus walks into the arena and sees Maximus alive. He is so stunned by that and goes back and says ‘somebody knew, somebody must have known that he was alive. Why wasn’t it reported to me?’ and for that reason he executes these two characters. And there’s an execution scene with a firing squad, basically, of 12 archers , and he demonstrates a certain amount of craziness there because he stands in front of the archers with fully drawn bows and says ‘one moment’ when they have their arrows fully drawn back. Of course the weight of each bow is tremendous so he is crazy enough to walk in front of 12 arrows while he talks to the men who are about to die, and while he brings forward Quintus (Thomas Arana) who is the treacherous one in all of this, the man who you believed was Maximus’s friend and supporter right at the very beginning and then turns. I think one of the successes of Gladiator is how we manage to turn on a dime the character from one thing to another where you believe he is one thing and he is something very different. You know it’s a very modern, contemporary view of ancient Rome and because of that it doesn’t become a history lesson. I think people were drawn or even sucked into the world and enjoyed it, enjoyed everything they saw. Not just the story, they enjoyed what they saw – the food, the clothing, the environment. I always try and create worlds that you would like to visit. You’d like to go on holiday there (laughs). I’d would have liked to have gone there on holiday, actually – I wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the slaves but I’d love to have visited Rome at that time.
... the whole thing.