In a 5.4 Variety piece titled “Gladiator at 20: Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott Look Back on the Groundbreaking Historical Epic,” Crowe is quoted as follows:

“I’d read the script and I thought it wasn’t a movie. But then [Walter] Parkes said, ‘It’s 184 A.D., you’re a Roman general, and you’re going to be directed by Ridley Scott.’ And that was enough for me to want to talk to Ridley. I was just coming off the shoot of The Insider. I was gigantic. I had no hair because I had been wearing a wig on that movie, so I had shaved my head to make it more comfortable and the wigs go on quicker. I didn’t look like any Roman general.”

(l.) Russell Crowe in 1999’s The Insider; (r.) during a 2019 appearance on Howard Stern’s SIRIUS show.