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David Fincher Circles 'Cleopatra' With Angelina Jolie, 'Benjamin Button' Writer Eric Roth To Pen Script

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 15, 2011 5:30 PM
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The last thing we heard from the developing, big budget redo of "Cleopatra" (can it really be done any other way?) was that Angelina Jolie, long attached to star, wanted David Fincher to take the helm. Loose conversations seemed to get underway this spring, but understandly, Fincher was neck deep in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and word died off as fast as it had arisen. But with 'Dragon Tattoo' locked, Fincher is now looking ahead at 2012 and perhaps eager to start scheduling some things in as it looks he's taking a more serious look at the sprawling biopic.

Variety reports that Fincher is once again circling the picture with a very interesting piece of bait on the lure. Eric Roth, the pen behind Fincher's first real big Oscar horse "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," is in talks to come aboard and (re)write the script for the movie. Based on Stacy Schiff's celebrated book "Cleopatra: A Life," the movie had an inital script by Brian Helgeland, for an epic movie that was orginally being planned as a PG-13 3D film. Whether or not that three dimensional format will stay in place remains to be seen, but Sony studio head Amy Pascal is calling this her "Gone with the Wind," and the film is fully expected to be carrying a budget to match.

"It is a completely revisionist Cleopatra, a much more grown-up sophisticated version," producer Scott Rudin previously said. "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."

Though we heard the relationship between Fincher and studio has not been quite as smooth on 'Dragon Tattoo' as it was during "The Social Network," the bottom line is Rudin and especially Jolie, get who they want. And any way you slice it, the potential pairing of Fincher/Jolie is certainly very, very enticing.

The project has been knocking around for a while, passing across James Cameron and Paul Greengrass' desks thus far without taking off. Roth seems to be a move not only to get a writer with some pedigree (he's got one Oscar out of four nominations) but also one who has worked with Fincher before and knows his tastes, aesthetic and approach. As far as courting moves go, it's a pretty smart one.

Certainly, the prospect of Fincher taking on a huge period movie is exciting, and we'd imagine he'd be eager to go down a path of material and subject he's never done before. But for now we'll see, but either way, it looks like Jolie really wants Fincher for this gig. Though we'll wonder how she'll feel after take 65.

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More: David Fincher, Angelina Jolie, Cleopatra

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  • Mary Oxford Englander | December 15, 2011 1:48 PMReply

    Love the idea of Jolie playing this role since I loved the book. My choice for co-stars? Antonio Banderas as Ceasar, Big Brad for Antony (see Mr. and Mrs. Smith for strenght of passion and individuality) and Octavian? My first choice would be the alligator smiling/crazy eyed Tom Cruise.He obviously has a LOT of pride and has otj training as a manipulator. He is a bit to old though. Maybe the Brazilian actor from Love Actually and 300?

  • Valentine Belfiglio | December 15, 2011 12:12 PMReply

    I am a professor of ancient history who specializes in the history of the Roman Republic (509-27 B.C.) I love studying and writing about this period. If you ever want a second opinion on any aspect of the history of the Roman Republic, I would be happy to be of service. I will do this free of charge.

  • sarah | November 16, 2011 8:18 AMReply


  • cassidy | November 16, 2011 8:17 AMReply

    I want Tom Welling as MARCUS A. Tom is a good actor!

  • tn | November 16, 2011 7:32 AMReply

    Wasn't Cleopatra a Black female ?

  • Ron | November 16, 2011 3:16 AMReply

  • Anon | November 17, 2011 5:44 AM

    Nope - sorry, she was black. Typical Hollywood.

  • padre | November 15, 2011 7:45 PMReply

    Mr. Fincher, you are of course an avid reader of Playlist, so I implore you YOU MUST CAST SUPERSTAR KEANU REEVES WITH SUPERSTAR ANGELINA JOLIE in this glorious sprawling orgy of excess and glamor movie. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN! Admittedly the Depp/Jolie team up was a dud, but they have clashing temperaments and styles. Keanu and Angie would get along like a house on fire. It would be epic and glorious and EPIC. It would be everything glamorous that Hollywood should be. Audiences the world over would be inhaling tubs of popcorn like it was air. And if you should happen cast Tom Welling as Marcus Antonius, I would instantly die happy. My ultimate movie would have been made and there would be no further reason for me to live! I am looking forward to your glorious glamorous sprawling EPIC, that makes Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments look like an after school plays. Don't let me down Mr. Fincher.

  • OLO | November 15, 2011 5:54 PMReply

    Please god no. I bet Brad Pitt is working behind the scenes here. Don't do it Fincher!

  • KitCon | November 15, 2011 5:52 PMReply

    Yes, Fincher, Jolie, Roth + the very fascinating life of Cleopatra should be good. Was just thinking with this, Moses, Aronofsky's Noah...feels like the era of the big historical epics has returned.

  • alphabet | November 15, 2011 5:48 PMReply

    by most accounts Cleopatra was reigning at age 18 and dead by 40.

    sure we love Angie, but she's too old for the lead.

    Rooney Mara tho...

  • Ken | November 15, 2011 5:44 PMReply

    This seems like it'd be a pretty huge departure from Fincher's other work. I'm interested in seeing what he does with this.

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