Back in October James Cameron entered talks with Sony to direct an adaptation of the Stacy Schiff book Cleopatra: A Life with Angelina Jolie in the lead role. Less than 2 weeks later 20th Century Fox signed a deal with Cameron to direct Avatar 2 and 3 back-to-back. His scare tactic worked.
With that out of the way, Sony is now talking with a number of other directors with the aim of getting the Egyptian epic off the ground later this year.
Producer Scott Rudin recently spoke to Deadline about the project:
Rudin isn’t spilling but we hear that the filmmakers “like the idea” of the much respected Paul Greengrass although his name hasn’t even been mentioned yet to Angie who’s attached.
“It is a completely revisionist Cleopatra, a much more grown-up sophisticated version,” Rudin recently told Mike Fleming. “She’s not a sex kitten, she’s a politician, strategist, warrior. In the Joseph Mankiewicz movie, Elizabeth Taylor is a seductress, but the histories of Cleopatra have been written by men. This is the first to be written by a woman. It felt like such a blow-the-doors-off-the-hinges idea of how to tell it, impossible to resist. We’re pretty close. A lot of directors want to do it, but there is only a handful we’ll make it with.”
Sony has been hoping for a start date in 2011 and readily acknowledges that the pic “won’t be cheap”. In fact, Amy Pascal is calling this her Gone With The Wind epic.
Greengrass would be an interesting choice, mainly because we haven’t really seen Ancient Egypt get the shaky-cam treatment yet. The historical epics we saw earlier in the decade such as Gladiator and Troy have died down in recent years, so an expensive one with a female lead will be a risk.
Even though The Tourist made little impact at the box office Angelina Jolie can bring in the crowds with action movies (Salt, Wanted), and if this gets made it will probably be her defining role regardless of whether it is a grand epic or an epic failure.
Are you interested in seeing Jolie play Cleopatra? Who should direct?