Let us count the ways that Sony’s “Cleopatra” could go wrong. But hiring Eric Roth to write the script for the Angelina Jolie epic (possibly with David Fincher at the helm) is a good sign. We can thank Roth for “Forrest Gump,” “The Insider,” “Munich,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and many other fine scripts including the upcoming “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” Based on Stacy Schiff’s sprawling bestseller, this “Cleopatra” is rooted in a complex history and demands a seasoned writer who will not lose sight of the biography’s authentic primary sources.
Bringing Fincher on board would also set the project on the right course. Exuding the infamous intelligence, charisma and sexuality of Cleopatra will be easy for Jolie, who nonetheless needs a strong director to pull from her a layered and compelling performance. The Egyptian queen–arguably the most powerful woman of all time– was a master political strategist who deftly manipulated her two life mates, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. (Picking the right two co-stars is also key.) If the movie gods align the elements, this could be Jolie’s career-defining role–and her best shot at a Best Actress Oscar.
Here’s some of our earlier coverage of “Cleopatra”: