Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Sony Wants Jolie as Cleopatra, but Can They Land Cameron?

by Anne Thompson
October 15, 2010 7:20 AM
9 Comments
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood

Sony envisions a mouth-watering Cleopatra franchise with Hollywood's only female action star, Angelina Jolie, as the mighty Egyptian Queen. James Cameron, post-Avatar, is being conjured to take on this project, reports Deadline's Mike Fleming, because he's one of the few directors Sony chairman Amy Pascal would trust with such a risky mammoth-budget 3-D period spectacle. But can she and producer Scott Rudin land him? (The answer I hear is yes).

Jolie would play the Cleopatra described in Stacy Schiff's book Cleopatra: A Life, from a screenplay by Brian Helgeland (Green Zone, Mystic River, L.A. Confidential). This movie, like D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Cleopatra (the most expensive movie ever made--$300 million in 2010 dollars--that almost wrecked 20th Century Fox), or HBO's mini-series Rome, would be huge in every way: big money, big risk.

Thompson on Hollywood

Jolie is the only marquee star who could remotely pull it off. The actress has expressed an affinity with the character (see quotes below). Writer Schiff, whose biography delves into the "true" Cleopatra, thinks Jolie is perfect for the role and hopes Brad Pitt will play Marc Antony (who wouldn't?). While Jolie is contending with the recent Bosnian protest against her directorial debut, and preps the December 10 opening of her next movie, The Tourist, co-starring Johnny Depp, Cleopatra speculation will continue to run wild.

Cameron ups the ante in more ways than one. While he is prepping an Avatar sequel and The Dive at Fox, his home for decades, he is free to go elsewhere and is producing Guillermo del Toro's Mountains of Madness at another studio, Universal. Cleopatra has long fascinated Hollywood, from Theda Bara and Claudette Colbert bathing in milk to Elizabeth Taylor. Steven Soderbergh was going to do a Cleopatra musical with Catherine Zeta-Jones, which fell apart.

Here's what Jolie said about playing Cleopatra:

"I will play it differently to Elizabeth Taylor, but I could never be as lovely as she was. We are trying to uncover the truth about her as a leader and not just a sex symbol which she really wasn't -- she didn't have many lovers, maybe only two, and they're men she had children with...She was misunderstood and her life story was written wrongly. I always thought her life was very glamorous. Then I read her story and found a different side to her - that she was a mother, leader and an intellect who spoke five languages! Her upbringing also reflected her relationship with Rome -- all that is much more interesting than what she was summed up to be."

[Picture of Cleopatras past: Theda Bara in 1917, Claudette Colbert in 1934, Elizabeth Taylor in 1963, Lyndsey Marshall in 2005-2007 (HBO's Rome)]

Sophia Savage contributed to this article.

9 Comments

  • anon YMUS | January 1, 2011 10:26 AMReply

    Still more soft porn NWO YOU-genocide agenda pre-programming
    from RED China halocaust concealing Hollywood...

  • eber hart | December 31, 2010 2:49 AMReply

    Thrise stale retread + empty. empty techno worship + RED China
    halocaust denial and franchise slum appeal + VAST potential for still
    more circle-jerk soft porn YOU-genocide agenda predictive programming
    and mind control = 'the very latest' from the aging FAST, ever unborn
    bedroom princes of Boomer Hollywood.

    LOL

  • A-K87 | October 16, 2010 11:54 AMReply

    @Jay
    Erghhh, Jay, I don't think it's that simple. There was a lot of moving around and invading of foreign soil back then. I believe, Cleo was a descendant of Alexander The Great (A Greek). She represented herself as a reincarnated Egyptian Goddess but nobody knew what she looked like down to her skintone. Who cares anyway. We don't really know what ONE person looked like in a particular country 2000 years ago!

  • Duder NME | October 16, 2010 9:09 AMReply

    If Cameron is charmed into this, will he stick with an authentic language, or will everyone speak the default Hollywood Foreign Accent of the Queen's British?

  • Jay | October 16, 2010 8:55 AMReply

    Does Cameron even know what an Egyptian looks like? They are a dark skinned people. Casting Jolie as Cleopatra would be like casting Ben Affleck as Desmond Tutu. How about some realism? Try Halle Berry or Freida Pinto. Someone that at least, is the same color as an Egyptian. Hollywood is so stupid!

  • Huff | October 16, 2010 6:13 AMReply

    Cleopatra is not the most expensive movie ever made. That honor belongs to the 1965 version of War and Peace, which was a vanity project for the Soviet Union and cost upwards of $700 million in today's money. The last Pirates of the Carribean film also has a slight edge over Cleopatra by a couple million.

  • Mike | October 16, 2010 1:25 AMReply

    Fascinating post, but I did want to point out that Claudette Colbert bathes in milk as Empress Poppaea in The Sign of the Cross (1932), not as Cleopatra in the 1934 film. That image still of Colbert is from The Sign of the Cross.

  • Sid | October 15, 2010 12:30 PMReply

    For Amy Pascal to give her obvious blessing to Deadline's post, she must be confident that a deal is all but done. No other director alive can raise expectations for this the way Cameron's involvement has. And knowing that Helgeland wrote the script addresses the concern most have about the weak spot of Cameron's past films

  • Griff | October 15, 2010 8:14 AMReply

    CLEOPATRA, of course, was Joseph L. Mankiewicz' picture.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Oscar Predicts Chart 2014Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATE
  • 'Birdman' Debuts at Venice to Rave Reviews: ...
  • Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' Will ...
  • Sophia Loren to Receive Career-Honoring ...
  • Drafthouse and Participant Media Pick ...
  • Lake Bell Directs Again
  • TIFF WATCH: Jean Dujardin Is the French ...
  • Rory Kennedy Doc 'Last Days in Vietnam' ...
  • Nikki Finke Video and Photos Posted ...
  • Jon Stewart's Debut 'Rosewater' Tells ...