EXCLUSIVE: One of the most compelling movie questions coming into 2014 is, what film will Steven Spielberg direct? I don’t know if this is next or far down the line, but here is a tantalizing possibility: I’m told that he has his sights on Montezuma, an epic tale of the kinship and ultimately the bloody collision between Montezuma and Cortez as the latter led the Spanish infiltration into Mexico. I’ve heard that Javier Bardem has sparked to playing the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, and that the catalyst here is a nearly 50-year old script by Dalton Trumbo that is being rewritten by Steve Zaillian, who teamed with Spielberg on the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List.
Zaillian is boarding this project as producer, likely alongside Spielberg and his DreamWorks team. The rights are now controlled by DreamWorks, but Zaillian’s first look deal is at Fox and I don’t know if a team-up there is in the works. Zaillian is currently producing the Moses epic Exodus for Fox, with Ridley Scott directing Christian Bale in the lead role.
This project could be retitled Cortez, since the viewpoint will be from the latter character to be played by fellow Spaniard Bardem. The project, considered one of the great unmade scripts in moviedom, has an illustrious history. Trumbo wrote it for actor/producer Kirk Douglas, with whom he did the classics Spartacus and Lonely Are the Brave. Trumbo turned in a 205-page draft in 1965, when Martin Ritt was supposed to direct Douglas in the film. It never happened. (more…)