Ridley Scott, eat your heart out. Or, maybe a shoe is more appropriate here? Werner Herzog is set to beat out Scott with his own biopic of famed British explorer Gertrude Bell set to begin production this fall.
The whole rat race began last February when Herzog teamed with with Naomi Watts for “Queen Of The Desert,” a “Lawrence Of Arabia“-esque epic based on the life of Bell — a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th century. Soon after, though, it was noted that Scott was developing his own biopic of Bell, which had Angelina Jolie eyeing the lead role.
Little else had been heard from Herzog’s project since then, but it now seems be moving forward quicker than ever with producer Cassian Elwes (Cannes duo “The Paperboy” and “Lawless“) unveiling plans for a fall shoot with Watts still on board. Scott, meanwhile, has “Prometheus” on the brink of a massive summer release, and “The Counselor” due to shoot this summer, but as recently as last week the director expressed hopes to follow the ‘Counselor’ up with his Bell biopic. Will Herzog’s news change things at all? We’ll have to wait and see.
Either way, Bell’s story is certainly one worth exploring on the big screen: along with T.E. Lawrence, she’s credited with playing an instrumental part in the founding of the modern states of Iraq and Jordan, and installing their first rulers, King Abdullah and King Faisal. Renowned for her extensive travels, explorations and mapping of Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia, Bell was also highly regarded by the British government and had a major influence on imperial policy-making — a very unusual concept at the time considering her gender. [Deadline]