Ridley Scott’s rep has confirmed to EW that the Gladiator director is hoping to helm a biopic centered on Gertrude Bell, with Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener) tapped to pen the project. (Deadline first reported the news.) It’s an interesting bit of news for two reasons: 1) Seeing a picture chronicling the life of the British explorer — who helped establish the modern-day Iraq — would be incredibly relevant, not to mention fascinating, while our troops remain in the war-torn country; and 2) A Gertrude Bell film would be a far less flashy film than we’re used to from the director of Blade Runner and Alien. But, since it’s Scott, it will be also more exciting than we’re used to for a biopic! After all, we’re talking about a woman who also served as a WWI spy. (And I claim I’m busy!)
It’s surprising that throughout Scott’s 30-year-plus career, he has yet to tackle a biopic, instead opting for big-budget epics (see: Gladiator), critically acclaimed sci-fi pictures (see: Alien), and occasional cult fantasies (see: Legend). (Yes, American Gangster was based on a true story, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify the film, which was sold as a crime drama, as a true biopic.) So I’m curious (and excited) to see what he brings to the genre — and hoping he fares better than when he tackled the romantic dramedy for the first time in 2006 with A Good Year. Still, I’m optimistic. This is Scott we’re talking about, a director who has found great success bringing strong women to the big screen. (Er, but forget about that whole G.I. Jane thing.) There is plenty of opportunity for action in a Gertrude Bell biopic, and Scott’s best when he’s playing to those strengths (and staying far away from a vineyard in Provence).
The remaining question now is: Who could play Bell? Since the spy was known for her red hair, it’s hard to go with anyone besides Amy Adams, especially since a Bell picture is prime Oscar bait (and we know how the Academy feels about three-time Oscar nominee Adams). And, no, sorry, Scott, I don’t think Russell Crowe in drag will do.
PopWatchers, are you excited to see Scott tackle the biopic? And who should play Bell?