Paul Wight has discussed missing out on a role in the Russell Crowe blockbuster Gladiator after Vince McMahon put a stop to it.
Wight joined WWE in 1999 after making his name in the wrestling business in WCW where he portrayed The Giant. Known as The Big Show in WWE, he went on to win the WWE Title and remained part of the roster for much of the last twenty years.
Wight stunned the wrestling world when he made his AEW debut in the spring of 2021, where he provides commentary alongside Tony Schiavone on AEW Dark: Elevation. However, a return to the ring was always on the cards, and Wight is set to make his in-ring AEW debut at All Out against QT Marshall.
Speaking to Chris Van Vliet on his Insight podcast, the world’s largest athlete discussed how his career could have gone in a very different direction not long into his WWE run:
“There were so many projects I couldn’t do because of the WWE schedule. When I first signed with WWE, Nick Cage reached out to me because his son was a big fan of me. Nick Cage was trying to hook me up with this Russell Crowe movie. But it was being shot in Spain, I would have to be in Spain for 6 weeks for it. But I’m thinking Russell Crowe is going to be a star, Nick Cage wants me, I’ve got it.”
“I go to ask Vince and he says ‘I’m paying you to be a wrestler, not an actor.’ So that was the end of that. So then it’s like yeah you are paying me a lot of money to be a wrestler, I will go back to work sir. There wasn’t as much crossover in the wrestling business then. For a while, WWE was very against wrestlers crossing over into movies. Then eventually they got into the program. So I am there watching Gladiator, that would have been good to be a part of. But now with AEW, I can be a part of all sorts of projects. Having that freedom to build the Paul Wight brand [is good] because it’s their intellectual property, so when you leave you have to rebuild yourself.”
Gladiator was released in 2000 and thrust Rusell Crowe into superstardom. The movie was nominated for twelve Academy Awards in March 2001, winning five including Best Picture and Best Actor In A Leading Role for Crowe.
Wight has made his mark in movies over the years, appearing in films such as Jingle All The Way, The Waterboy, and the WWE-produced Knucklehead. In 2020 he was the star of the Netflix series The Big Show Show.