There was Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, and dozens more, but now it seems as though we'll be adding yet another name to the long list of ladies to play Cleopatra, Angelina Jolie. As reported by USA Today, producer Scott Rudin nabbed the rights to Stacy Schiff's upcoming biography, Cleopatra: A Life. While discussing the news at a luncheon to promote the book, Schiff and Little, Brown publisher, Michael Pietsch, revealed Rubin acquired the work with Jolie in mind for the lead role. That's great, but you can't always get what you want, right? Not in the producer of No Country for Old Men, Doubt and Fantastic Mr. Fox's case. Rudin's office confirmed the news; the film "is being developed for and with Jolie."
According to the book's description on Amazon, Schiff will explore the usual and delve into the elements of the Queen of the Nile's regal existence including her ascension to the throne at 18, the power struggle with her younger brother, her romance with Julius Caesar, an affair with Mark Antony and ultimately, her demise. So what makes this book worth reading over the slew already on the market? "Stacy Schiff accomplishes a feat that has eluded artists and writers for centuries: capturing fully the operatic life of an exceptionally seductive and powerful woman, whose death ushered in a new world order."
Still sounds like any old biography to me, but the real news here is Jolie. Isn't it about time she played Cleo? Not only does she look the part, but she's also guaranteed to nail every aspect of the Queen from powerful politician to romantic manipulator. Schiff herself even said, "Physically, she's the perfect look." But no Cleopatra is complete without her men and, conveniently enough, Schiff finds Brad Pitt would make the perfect Mark Antony. However, when asked about Caesar potentials, the writer comes up empty. I'd be amused to see it kept in the dating circle and go with Angie's former husband and blood buddy, Billy Bob Thornton.
Big names will certainly be a necessity with this project, and I'm sure Rudin will have no problem attracting them. Of course famous faces don't guarantee a successful period piece (I'm looking at you, Alexander), particularly here in the states, but they should allot the film a fighting chance at the box office. What it comes down to, is that we've heard this all before. What will we learn or experience with Cleopatra here that we haven't already discovered or done? Schiff's book isn't due to hit shelves until November, so we'll have to wait quite a while to see what we're working with.