Ridley Scott Planning Gertrude Bell Biopic & African Coup Drama

Published 2 years ago by , Updated August 2nd, 2013 at 9:50 am,

Once Sir Ridley Scott completes post-production on Prometheus, his next move as a director is an unsettled matter.

The list of projects he could handle thereafter includes: a new Blade Runner movie, a drama about the Gucci fashion family, the Russia-set serial killer thriller Child 44, a sequel to Prometheus (assuming that semi-Alien prequel is a hit), and one of two based-on-true-events projects: a Gertrude Bell biopic and a docudrama about a failed coup led by officer-turned-vigilante Simon Mann.

Angelina Jolie is attached to headline Gertrude Bell, which is being scripted by Academy Award-nominee Jeffrey Caine (Goldeneye, The Constant Gardener). Scott would at least produce that biographical picture though his Scott Free Productions, but is also currently considering it as a potential directing vehicle.

Here is what THR has to say about the real-life inspiration for the project:

Bell has been described as the female Lawrence of Arabia for the impact the English woman had in the Middle East and her work in establishing what would become the modern framework for Jordan and Iraq. With a passion for archeology and languages, she wrote about her adventures in the Ottoman Empire and desert kingdoms, traveling in not only a predominantly male world but one whose culture and religion was very alien to the British Empire.

Scott’s Bell biopic would be simply the latest in a long line of films featuring Jolie as a “strong female character” and one of two upcoming projects that involve the actress portraying a significant historical figure – the other being Cleopatra. The former arguably reads as a more interesting flick, simply because Bell’s life has never been given the Hollywood treatment before. Plus, Jolie portraying the British Miss Bell would probably attract less controversy than her playing the famous Egyptian queen of Macedonian descent (take that as you will).

Untitled Simon Mann Project

Deadline says that Scott is also looking to produce and direct a true-story thriller concerning the actions of ex-British army officer Simon Mann, who would be portrayed by Gerard Butler. Robert Edwards (Land of the Blind) is onboard to pen the screenplay.

The untitled Simon Mann flick would recount the man’s failed attempt to lead a coup against the then-president of Equatorial Guinea (in Africa) back in 2004. Mann (who was imprisoned for his actions before being granted a presidential pardon in 2009) and his wife are currently shopping the package around to studio heads. Reportedly, a deal is likely to be struck in the near future.

Butler recently gave a well-received performance as another real-life warrior who seeks justice in Africa by violent means, in this year’s Machine Gun Preacher. Between that turn and his militaristic part in Ralph Fiennes’ upcoming Coriolanus adaptation, it looks like the actor is aiming to work on higher-pedigree films – without really straying outside of his comfort zone, as an actor. Scott’s new project would provide Butler an opportunity to continue doing just that.

It goes without saying that Scott cannot direct all of the aforementioned projects – and, based on some of the Oscar-nominated filmmaker’s more recent comments, the Blade Runner “sequel” currently looks to take priority over most of his other in-development movies.

That could easily change in the future, of course, and we here at Screen Rant will be sure to let you know when/if it does.

Source: Deadline, THR

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  1. Butler seems perfect to play Simon Mann.
    Gerry might have played enough of these roles
    but if Ridley Scott calls its an offer not to refuse.

    Butler’s tortured heartbroken Phantom is his best
    performance in one of my all-time favorite films.

    • Robert, I agree with you. Phantom is one of my favorite and I do think that Gerard is the best when playing strong and difficult roles. He is good in comedy, also, since his acting talent is high, but his personality is far more deep and just seeks for something special.

  2. Both sound good, but especially the Simon Mann one! I’ll definitely watch them!

  3. Angelina Jolie is perfect to play Gertrude Bell role. the one who said “Baghdad is a mass of roses and congratulations”. Ms.Bell, she was one of the most infuential political figures in history. After the first world war, British & France gave what they didn’t own to some one didn’t deserved, The Arabs “nomadic” uncivilized people.

  4. Not to start this debate again, but – Cleopatra wasn’t Macedonian. She was of Greek descent – which is something that the author of the Cleopatra book that this movie is being based on has clearly, and repeatedly, stated. Cleopatra wasn’t 100% Greek, but due to the fact that the royal family intermarried – and it can be traced – the likelihood of Cleopatra being more than 1/8 Macedonian is highly unlikely.