Sony Pictures has struggled to nail down an acclaimed filmmaker for its in-development 3D Cleopatra biopic, with Angelina Jolie attached to portray the titular Egyptian Queen. James Cameron showed interest, but is moving ahead with his Avatar sequels instead, while rumored candidate Paul Greengrass will next be directing his own historical drama, Memphis.
Now The Social Network director David Fincher is reportedly being considered for the job, which would reunite him once again with Scott Rudin – the producer of The Social Network and Fincher’s upcoming Girl With the Dragon Tattoo adaptation.
This new Cleopatra project would be based on Stacy Schiff’s best-seller (and Pulitzer Prize-winner) “Cleopatra: A Life”, with a script penned by Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential). Deadline says that there’s been discussion about hiring another writer to rework the screenplay, and possibly not shooting in 3D now that Cameron is no longer attached to direct – but that it’s all strictly preliminary at this point, and nothing’s official.
Fincher has the option to helm the Dragon Tattoo sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and is set to direct the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake for Disney at some point. Sony reportedly wants the Cleopatra movie to move forward in the near future, so the Fight Club director’s involvement depends in part on what he selects as his next move, once post-production on Dragon Tattoo is complete.
The life of Cleopatra was previously brought to…er, life under the direction of Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1963, in an infamously extravagant production that featured Elizabeth Taylor as the titular queen – a production which ultimately bombed at the box office. Sony’s new film would likely be an expensive undertaking as well, which accounts for why the studio is looking to bring A-list talent onboard, both in front of and behind the camera.
Rudin has described Cleopatra in the new film as “not a sex kitten [but] a politician, a strategist, a warrior.” Historical events are reportedly portrayed from the titular character’s perspective in her new biopic, and Jolie has spoken out before about how she views the Egyptian queen as “misunderstood… much more interesting than what she was summed up to be.”
It sounds as though the Cleopatra biopic will approach its subject from a more thoughtful perspective, and Jolie certainly has the ability to portray a fiercely independent and capable regal figure (ignorning her thankless role in Alexander, that is). With a director of Fincher’s caliber onboard, the film could be something memorable.
As for the casting of an American actress like Jolie in the role of the Egyptian Cleopatra… I leave that for you readers to discuss in the comments section below.