Russell Crowe almost turned down 'Gladiator'.

The 56-year-old actor - who played Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius in the 2000 epic - admitted he initially had some reservations about the project, but as soon as producer Walter Parkes told him Ridley Scott was at the helm, he was intrigued enough to open talks.

He told Variety: ''I'd read the script and I thought it wasn't a movie. But then 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.''

Crowe - who was reflecting on the movie and its success to mark its 20th anniversary - admitted he had some work to do to get the right look for his character as he had been working on 1999's 'The Insider' in which he played Dr. Jeffrey Wigand.

He explained: ''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.''

The historical action drama has gone on to be regarded as one of the best films of all time, and its leading man is delighted that it still holds up with an enduring popularity.

He added: ''The standout thing with this film, and 20 years later I can say with confidence that somewhere in the world, today, tonight, that movie will be played on primetime.

''And it's 20 years since it came out. Not every movie lasts in that way.''