Did Oliver Reed Appear in Scenes of Gladiator Filmed AFTER He Died?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Oliver Reed appeared in scenes in Gladiator filmed after the actor died.

Born in 1938, Oliver Reed lived the life you would think only happened in movies, as a star who spent most of his years drinking, fighting and having an all-around good time.

Reed began acting in the late 1950s, and starred in a number of movies, perhaps most notably at the time in his uncle Carol Reed’s version of Oliver (as Bill Sikes).

The tough, strapping Reed had a similar look to Sean Connery, but Reed’s reputation as a womanizer and party animal kept him from being seriously considered for Bond when Connery left the role.

Anyhow, in 1999, after four decades in the film business, Reed began filming Gladiator, as Proximo, the slave dealer who “owned” the titular character in the film.

Here’s Reed…

Sadly, during a break in filming, Reed died of a heart attack at the age of 61. He had been heavily drinking the night before, as was his wont, totaling an $866 alcohol bill!!

With the tragic loss of Reed, Gladiator director Ridley Scott was at a bit of a loss. He still had scenes left in the film with Proximo in them!

So what they did was quite remarkable (and slightly creepy).

The special effects group for the film, The Mill, helped bring Reed back from the dead (of sorts)!

Scott filmed Proximo’s final scenes at night and behind the bars of a gate (as Russell Crowe’s lead character comes to Proximo for help, only for Proximo to be killed by Roman soldiers) with a body double acting out the scenes.

The Mill then used computer graphics to add Oliver Reed’s face to the body double in the scenes where his face is visible (and again, remember, it’s dark and there are bars between the viewer and his face).

Then the body double is later filmed from behind when Promixo is murdered by the soldiers…

Reed’s face appears on about 2 minutes of film, and the cost was $3.2 million to achieve the effect!

Wow, talk about devotion!

It’s amazing that films can achieve such feats, but that being said, if you watch the scene looking for it, it is pretty noticeable (a la some of the Green Screen effects in older films).

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

10 Responses to “Did Oliver Reed Appear in Scenes of Gladiator Filmed AFTER He Died?”

  1. ” Reed’s reputation as a womanizer and party animal kept him from being seriously considered for Bond when Connery left the role.”

    Why was that a disadvantage? I’d have thought that would make him perfect for the role.

  2. This is the first time I have ever come across the idea that Reed was ever considered for the Bond role,with whatever degree of seriousness.

  3. This is the first time I have ever come across the idea that Reed was ever considered for the Bond role,with whatever degree of seriousness.

    In Cliff Goodwin’s 2000 biography of Reed, he found a letter from Albert R. Broccoli where he said, “With Reed we would have had a far greater problem to destroy his image and re-mold him as James Bond. We just didn’t have the time or money to do that.”

    Think it’s interesting enough to be a legend itself?

  4. Why was that a disadvantage? I’d have thought that would make him perfect for the role.

    Reed was more of a “hellraiser” than he was a refined ladies’ man like Bond.

  5. [...] is being done with the 3rd installment of The Hunger Games (link) and what was done in Gladiator (link), Paul Walker's character will continue to be in the movie with the help of a body double and [...]

  6. [...] is being done with the 3rd installment of The Hunger Games (link) and what was done in Gladiator (link), Paul Walker’s character will continue to be in the movie with the help of a body double and [...]

  7. [...] his purpose as Proximo in a Ridley Scott film Gladiator. In sequence to film Reed’s shade death, a physique double was used. The stage was shot mostly around Reed’s face, though did give glimpses of it for [...]

  8. [...] his purpose as Proximo in a Ridley Scott film Gladiator. In sequence to film Reed’s shade death, a physique double was used. The stage was shot mostly around Reed’s face, though did give glimpses of it for [...]

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