It is rather interesting that Peter Ustinov was nominated for the role of the owner of the gladiator school which trains Spartacus, considering the bigger supporting roles of Laurence Olivier as the evil dictator Crassus, and Charles Laughton as the sly Roman Senator Gracchus were both not nominated. Instead Ustinov was in his smaller, but an oddly important role.
Ustinov begins as a the man who buys Spartacus. Ustinov moves around with the right casual business man manner in these early moments, looking to make money from his Gladiators. Ustinov is actually rather enjoyable with his relaxed manner as the slave owner. I actually like that he makes his character strangely likable early on, despite being a cruel slave owner, but he just creates a fun presence as he tries to deal with his gladiators and his patrician guests who cause him a lot of trouble.
Ustinov later comes in and out of the film. I will say I was glad to see him every time that he returned. His scenes are simple but made enjoyable because of his simple down to earth performance. I like his simple moments with both Olivier, and especially with Laughton. Their certain chemistry they have together just is simply terrific. He adds just a nice charm, and a nice bit of humor to every moment he is in, which works well for the film.Ustinov's performance is not amazing, but it is a nice enjoyable performance which adds a nice bit of joy to a film that needs it.