Paul Greengrass Rumored for CLEOPATRA with Angelina Jolie

     January 4, 2011

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James Cameron briefly flirted with the idea of directing Cleopatra, a 3D epic with Angelina linked to the title role.  That hypothetical sounds like the biggest production ever, but it was not meant to be.  Later in the month, it was announced Cameron will be tied up for the forseeable future by two Avatar sequels.

That leaves a high profile directing gig open for the rest of Hollywood’s elite.  Producer Scott Rudin (True Grit) revealed that he and Sony Pictures are “pretty close” to landing a director.  He didn’t specify, but sources suggest that Paul Greengrass (Green Zone) is under consideration.  More after the jump:

It sounds like we’re due for an announcement soon, but I don’t recommend you bet on Greengrass.  Deadline even notes that those who are talking about Greengrass have not mentioned his name to Jolie.  Although, the director would have the schedule for it.  Over the past year, Greengrass decided not to direct The Bourne Legacy or the Cameron-produced Fantastic Voyage.  He was linked to a Treasure Island adaptation, though it’s not clear if that has progressed since May.

Of course, with a project of this scope, the studio must have a shortlist of contenders.  Rudin believes their fresh take on the material has been a big draw: cleopatra_a_life_stacy_schiff

“It is a completely revisionist Cleopatra, a much more grown-up sophisticated version. She’s not a sex kitten; she’s a politician, strategist, warrior. In the Joseph Mankiewicz movie [1963’s Cleopatra], 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.”

Brian Helgeland (Robin Hood) based his script on Cleopatra: A Life, a biography by Stacy Schiff.  Here’s the synopsis:

Her palace shimmered with onyx and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.

She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a son with Caesar and–after his murder–three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since. [Amazon]

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