Ridley Scott’s latest cinematic venture, “Napoleon,” brings back Academy Award® winner Joaquin Phoenix, not as the infamous Joker, but as the legendary French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Scott, reminiscing their time on “Gladiator,” instantly recognized Phoenix as the ideal fit for this intricate role. “I saw him and it all came flooding back – how we worked on Gladiator, and what journey he went on with that character, and I thought, ‘God damn, there’s Napoleon.’” Scott shares.
Unearthing the Layers: Phoenix’s Discovery of Napoleon
Phoenix, initially unfamiliar with the depths of Napoleon’s persona, admits to being captivated by the complexities he unearthed. “I found him to be a much more complex person than I initially imagined, especially the dynamic between him and Josephine,” says the actor who plays Napoleon. “I found him mysterious, and that mystery is something that is always interesting to explore.” Phoenix reveals, delving into the enigmatic character of the Emperor. This intriguing mystery became a cornerstone in Phoenix’s portrayal.
Behind the Scenes: The Director-Actor Synergy
Producer Mark Huffam highlights the unique bond between Scott and Phoenix, a synergy that transcends mere collaboration. “Ridley and Joaquin like to challenge each other on a regular basis, but it’s always done with a smile,” says Huffam. “Joaquin had his concerns about taking on the role, and I think anybody would about this character. But thanks to conversations with Ridley, he got comfortable with it quite quickly and he is fantastic.”
For Scott, rekindling this partnership was nothing short of exhilarating. “He’s the only actor where we talk for weeks beforehand, just chatting and arguing in an office over aspects of the character. At the end, we are on the same page,” says the director. “He’s good for me, because he keeps me honest, and I’m good for him, because I keep him in line. Physically, he’s perfect for the role – some of his facial features are strikingly similar to Napoleon’s,” Scott remarks.
The Art of Spontaneity: Phoenix’s Approach to Character Building
Phoenix credits Scott’s meticulous groundwork for granting him the artistic liberty to explore and embody Napoleon on set. ““What I like is not having it all figured out in my head beforehand – I like to have several possibilities to play with on the day,” explains Phoenix. “Ridley not only allows that process, he encourages it – he wants you to move as freely as the character would.”
The film, directed by Ridley Scott, is a visually stunning action epic depicting Napoleon Bonaparte’s tumultuous rise and fall. Phoenix’s portrayal of Bonaparte is complemented by Vanessa Kirby’s depiction of Josephine, his great love. Set against the backdrop of monumental battle scenes and political intrigue, the film is a testament to Scott’s mastery in large-scale filmmaking.
Scripted by David Scarpa and produced by Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Mark Huffam, and Joaquin Phoenix, “Napoleon” is a testament to historical storytelling infused with modern cinematic techniques.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby, “Napoleon” is set to premiere in cinemas on November 29, exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Engage with the film using the hashtag #Napoleon.
Photo & Video Credit: “Columbia Pictures”