Director Ridley Scott, who is directing the biopic ‘Napoleon’ starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, said he cast the Hollywood star after his Oscar winning performance as Arthur Fleck in ‘Joker’.
As reported by Deadline, while speaking to Empire Magazine, Scott said: “I’m staring at Joaquin and saying, ‘This little demon is Napoleon Bonaparte’. He looks like him.”
Phoenix went on to say that he was nostalgic at the idea of reuniting with the director after he had played the role of Roman Emperor Commodus in ‘Gladiator’ which garnered him critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination.
He told the outlet: “The truth is, there was just a very nostalgic idea of working with Ridley again. He’s approached me about other things in the past, but nothing that felt like it would be as demanding for both of us. And so I really liked the idea of jumping into something with Ridley that was going to be that.”
Talking about Napoleon Bonaparte, Scott said: “I compare him with Alexander The Great. Adolf Hitler. Stalin. Listen, he’s got a lot of bad s*** under his belt. At the same time, he was remarkable with his courage, and in his can-do and in his dominance. He was extraordinary.”
Scott also mentioned that just two weeks before filming was set to start, Phoenix approached him and told him: “I don’t know what to do,’, to which the director continued, “Oh God, I said, ‘Come in, sit down.’ We sat for ten days, all day, talking scene by scene. In a sense, we rehearsed. Absolutely, detail by detail.”
While the film will pay special attention to Napoleon’s rise to power and his tumultuous relationship with his wife Empress Josephine, it won’t per say be a biopic as such.
Elaborating on this, Phoenix said “If you want to really understand Napoleon, then you should probably do your own studying and reading. Because if you see this film, it’s this experience told through Ridley’s eyes. It’s just such a complex world. I mean, it’s so f***** complex. What we were after was something that would capture the feeling of this man.”
The film’s official reads: “An original and personal look at Napoleon’s origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine.
“While the intention of the film is to capture Napoleon’s famous battles, ambition and strategic mind, the love story he had with Josephine is just as important to the origins and way the great military leader was.”
In addition to Joaquin Phoenix, Napoleon will star Vanessa Kirby as Empress Josephine and Tahar Rahim as French Revolution politician Paul Barras.