Angelina Jolie played a strident Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great, in Oliver Stone's Alexander. And now she's in talks with David Fincher (The Social Network), to portray Cleopatra, descendant of one of Alexander's generals, a child of incest who was born a goddess, became the richest woman in the world by the age of 20, was of the first woman to rule alone and was in the words of Stacy Schiff, her most recent biographer, the most famous woman we do not know.
Based on Schiff's fascinating 2010 biography that debunks accounts Roman historians who had reasons to caricature her, the Fincher version is likely to also show Cleo the strategist and intellectual, a more three-dimensional version of the queen of Egypt variously played on screen by a wanton Claudette Colbert (1934), minxlike Vivien Leigh (1945) and decadent Elizabeth Taylor (1963).
As of the nanosecond, the web is crawling with rumors that Brad Pitt, Jolie's partner and father of her children, might play Marc Antony. Pitt has previously worked with Fincher in Se7en, The Fight Club and Benjamin Button.
I'm agnostic about Jolie as an actress. No denying that she's a screen presence, but except for her work in the telefilm Gia, there isn't a whole lot of nuance in her work. I suppose if you're casting an actress for a larger-than-life figure, Jolie's your go-to-gal.
Have you read the Schiff book? Is there a better casting choice than Jolie? One thing's for sure, the writing in the screenplay (to be adapted by Brian Helgeland of L.A. Confidential) is going to be less campy than that in the Colbert version. If memory serves, her fiery Cleo looks at Caesar (played by a bloddless Warren William) and proclaims, "Together we could conquer the world!" His response: "Nice of you to include me."
What would Schiff's Cleopatra say?