He may be 85, but Ridley Scott isn’t slowing down and is set to tackle another history-inspired drama with the upcoming “Napoleon” starring Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte.
Scott and Phoenix famously worked together over two decades ago on “Gladiator,” and now the pair reunite here to explore Napoleon’s rise to power through the lens of his addictive and volatile relationship with Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). Tahar Rahim and Youssef Kerkour co-star.
Phoenix, of course, is famous for his meticulous, eccentric and compelling performances who, so long as a filmmaker can handle him, brings much to a picture. Scott is one such director, and the creative partnership led to a retooling of the script to accommodate Phoenix’s portrayal of the emperor.
Scott tells Empire that re-teaming with Phoenix was “one of my most challenging but also one of my best experiences, with any actor”. He reportedly allowed the actor to speak up whenever he felt ‘uncomfortable’ with his character, and they retooled the movie whilst filming to let Phoenix fully realize his performance:
“Joaquin is about as far from conventional as you can get. Not deliberately, but out of intuition. That’s what makes him tick. If something bothers him, he’ll let you know. He made [Napoleon] special by constantly questioning.
With Joaquin, we can rewrite the goddamn film because he’s uncomfortable. And that kind of happened with Napoleon. We unpicked the film to help him focus on who Bonaparte was. I had to respect that because what was being said was incredibly constructive. It made it all grow bigger and better.
With Napoleon, I think we dug in and found the character, or as close to what he may have been. Joaquin is probably the most special, thoughtful actor I’ve ever worked with.”
Filming on the project began back in February and wrapped in May, with most filming taking place in the UK and a bit in Malta. Apple Studios will release the film sometime next year.