EXCLUSIVE: HBO is taking on a pivotal moment in the history of the Americas with Cortes, a high-profile drama series in development. It is being written/executive produced by Mississippi Burning scribe Chris Gerolmo, directed/executive produced by Martin Scorsese and executive produced by Benicio Del Toro who is interested in starring as the Aztec conqueror.
Cortes will tell the sweeping story of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who brought down the Aztec empire; Malinche, the Mayan girl who helped him do it; and Montezuma, the Aztec leader he befriended and finally put in chains.
The subject matter has the makings of a compelling drama as Cortés’ legacy is a complex one. On one hand, he won Mexico for Spain and extended the Spanish Empire. But from the indigenous’ point of view, he was a mass murderer who spearheaded the destruction of one of the greatest civilizations of that time.
In addition to Gerolmo and Oscar winners Scorsese and Del Toro, Cortes is executive produced by Laura Bickford, Del Toro’s producing partner on Che; Scorsese and Del Toro’s manager Rick Yorn; and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, president of production for Scorsese’s Sikelia Prods.
WME-repped Scorsese made his TV debut with the HBO period drama Boardwalk Empire, winning an Emmy for directing the pilot. He is directing his second HBO pilot, the untitled Rock ‘N’ Roll drama, a collaboration with Mick Jagger and Boardwalk Empire‘s Terence Winter, which explores the drug- and sex-fueled music business in 1970s New York.
In TV, Gerolmo previously co-created with Steven Bochco the FX Iraq drama series Over There and most recently worked on the network’s U.S.-Mexico-border drama The Bridge. He is repped by ICM Partners and Jackoway Tyerman.
This would be the latest Latin American historical figure portrayal for Del Toro who toplined Escobar: Paradise Lost and Steven Soderbergh’s Che. In addition to Escobar, CAA-repped Del Toro is coming off his role as The Collector in the summer blockbuster The Guardians Of The Galaxy.