Joaquin Phoenix Will Play Napoleon For Ridley Scott

Joaquin Phoenix is reteaming with Ridley Scott for another historical epic.

By Ross Bonaime | Updated

Joaquin Phoenix Ridley Scott

On the same day that director Ridley Scott finished production on his next film, The Last Duel, he has also announced his next project, Kitbag, which will reunite Scott with his Gladiator star, Joaquin Phoenix.

Deadline broke the news that Joaquin Phoenix will be playing French emperor Napoleon in Kitbag, which gets its name from the quote, “There is a general’s staff hidden in every soldier’s kitbag.” Scott will also be reuniting with his All the Money in the World screenwriter David Scarpa for the project. 

As Deadline explains, Kitbag is “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. The intention of the film is to capture Napoleon’s famous battles, relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind as an extraordinary military leader and war visionary.” Sounds like a fascinating role for Joaquin Phoenix to sink his teeth into. 

Joaquin Phoenix Gladiator

Napoleon’s life has been captured in several past films, most notably the 1927 silent film by Abel Gance, Napoléon, and 2002’s miniseries, also titled Napoleon. Stanley Kubrick also famously tried to make a film about Bonaparte’s life, but the expensive cost of location filming stopped the project before it could begin. In recent years, however, Stephen Spielberg has announced he would like to turn Kubrick’s script into an HBO series, with No Time to Die director Cary Fukunaga possibly directing. It looks like Joaquin Phoenix will get the first stab at the historical figure.

At 81-years-old, Ridley Scott is staying surprisingly busy. Not only did he direct two episodes of the new HBO Max series, Raised by Wolves, but The Last Duel also sounds like an insane production. The Last Duel takes place in 14th-century France, where best friends Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris must fight to the death after Carrouges accuses Le Gris of raping his wife. The Last Duel is written by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Can You Ever Forgive Me? scribe Nicole Holofcener, and will star Damon, Adam Driver, Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck as King Charles VI. The Last Duel was planned for release later this year but has been pushed back to October 15, 2021.

In addition to Raised by Wolves, Kitbag, and The Last Duel, Scott plans on returning to some of his most famous films in the near future. Producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald talked about working with Scott on Gladiator 2 for HeyUGuys, saying, “We’re working with Ridley, that’s one we wouldn’t touch unless we felt in a way to do it was legitimate. We’re working with an amazing writer as well, Peter Craig. Parkes continued, “It picks up the story 30 years later…25 years later.” 

Ridley Scott Prometheus

Scott also said he once again plans to return to the world of Alien in an interview with Forbes. “That’s in process. We went down a route to try and reinvent the wheel with Prometheus and Covenant.” Scott said, “Whether or not we go directly back to that is doubtful because Prometheus woke it up very well. But you know, you’re asking fundamental questions like, ‘Has the Alien himself, the facehugger, the chestburster, have they all run out of steam? Do you have to rethink the whole bloody thing and simply use the word to franchise?’ That’s always the fundamental question.”

Joaquin Phoenix Joker

Joaquin Phoenix’s most recent film, Joker, was by far the most successful of his career, earning over a billion dollars worldwide last year and giving Phoenix his first Best Actor Academy Award. His next film will be C’mon C’mon from 20th Century Women and Beginners director Mike Mills. The film is about an artist who goes on a cross-country trip with his nephew and costars Gaby Hoffman and Jaboukie Young-White. There have also been rumors that Joaquin Phoenix might return to play Arthur Fleck in a supposed Joker 2, although as of right now, those seem to only be rumors.