Angelina Jolie has been accused of being this generation’s Elizabeth Taylor in the negative sense of being a homewrecker. Now, in a strange twist of fate, author Stacy Schiff says Angelina and her husband Brad Pitt would be ideal for the roles of Cleopatra and Marc Antony in the film version of her book: “Cleopatra: A Life.”
In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor co-starred with Richard Burton in “Cleopatra” and the next thing you knew, Sybil Burton was a divorcee.
The word, according to Schiff and Little, Brown publisher, Michael Pietsch, is that film producer Scott Rudin has purchased the film rights to Stacy Schiff’s book. The author thinks it’s a grand idea: “Physically, she’s the perfect look,’ Stacy says, “Brad Pitt is a no-brainer for Mark Antony.”
Will Angelina Jolie make a better Cleopatra than Elizabeth Taylor?
I think Stacy Schiff’s got a point, as least about the physical aspect. Angelina Jolie really would be a great looking Cleopatra, and when you compare her with Elizabeth Taylor, she’s more exotic looking and at 5′ 8″, a lot taller than the diminutive 5′ 2″ Taylor
The 1963 film was widely considered to be an overblown and expensive flop although it did eventually make back the $44 million spent to make it. That’s something like $300 million in today’s dollars!
They spent a king’s ransom dressing Taylor up in the 1963 film. The budget for Elizabeth Taylor’s costumes was $194,800, and one of her 65 costumes included a dress fashioned from 24-carat gold cloth. Extravagant indeed, even by today’s standards! Liz was also the first actress to ever be paid $1 million dollars for this role.
I saw Cleopatra (1963) when I was 12 and really wasn’t that impressed with it to the point where I ever wanted to see again — not that I don’t like Liz and Dick in other films. The body of Angelina Jolie’s work so far really can’t hold a candle to many Liz Taylor classics, like “Place in the Sun” (1951), “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), “Butterfield 8” (1960) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966). Angelina Jolie does take on roles to stretch her acting skills, but whether she will ever stretch them far enough to an actress of the same caliber as Liz Taylor remains to be seen.
Richard Burton was a great actor, although his career was overshadowed by his alcohol problems. Still, and you can call me old-fashioned or worse, I can’t see Brad Pitt ever playing roles like Becket, Henry VIII or Hamlet, can you? I don’t think Brad will ever come close to being in the same league as Richard Burton.
Marlon Brando was initially considered for Burton’s role, but he was filming “Mutiny on the Bounty,” which worked out a lot better for him. He met and married Polynesian actress Tarita.
Elizabeth Taylor already knew and didn’t like Richard Burton before this film, but the first time he came to work on “Cleopatra,” he had such a horrible hangover that she had to play nursemaid to him, and we gals know what happens when we have to take care of a “sick little boy.” Those maternal instincts kick in. For better or worse, the Liz and Dick love affair is still considered one of the most passionate loves of the 20th century and interest in it has just recently been renewed, when Elizabeth released some of Burton’s love letters.
Since Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are already together, albeit not technically married, hopefully their casting in “Cleopatra: A Life” won’t give rise to any offscreen shenanigans with anyone else in the flick.
Softpedia: Angelina Jolie Cast as Cleopatra (6/11/2010)