Spielberg, Bardem and Zaillian Exploring Montezuma-Cortez Epic


Steven Spielberg has remained fairly quiet about what he might direct next ever since his planned adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse was postponed indefinitely almost exactly this time last year.

It looks like Deadline has gotten word that one of Spielberg’s potential projects may be Montezuma, about the bloody conflict between Montezuma and Hernando Cortez, the Spanish explorer who led a mission into Mexico to add to Spain’s riches. According to the story, Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem is already interested in playing the role of Cortez.

What makes the project even more interesting is that it’s based on a nearly 50-year-old screenplay by the late Hollywood legend Dalton Trumbo, to be rewritten by Steve Zaillian, the latter who previously teamed with Spielberg on his Oscar-winnng film Schindler’s List. Zaillian is also joining the project as a producer alongside Spielberg and DreamWorks, and the title may eventually be changed to “Cortez” since it’s from the Spanish explorer’s perspective.

Trumbo famously wrote some of Hollywood’s classic films and epics including Roman Holiday and Spartacus, as well as writing and directing the controversial Johnny Got His Gun. One of his last screeplays was for Papillon, but Montezuma was considered to be one of the “great unmade scripts,” Trumbo having written it with Kirk Douglas in mind, following their successful collaborations on Spartacus and Lonely Are the Brave.

Trumbo was blacklisted by Hollywood when he became one of the Hollywood Ten who refused to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee, Joe McCarthy’s attempt to out communists working within the American entertainment industry, Trumbo spending 11 months in jail for contempt. He was hired by Kirk Douglas to write Spartacus, which won four Oscars even though Trumbo’s screenplay went unnominated.

Trumbo passed away in 1976 at the age of 71, but there was a terrific documentary made about his life, his career and his problems called Trumbo, which was released a few years back.

There is no definitive word that this might be Spielberg’s next project as he has a couple of other things in development to follow-up his Oscar-nominated Lincoln. Although Robopocalypse has been tabled, he still hopes to direct it, and at one point he was also circling American Sniper, the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, to be played by Bradley Cooper, a possible project set up at Warner Bros., but he dropped out last year and Clint Eastwood took over the director’s chair.

(Photo source: WENN.com)

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