Outer space, the far future, rural Pennsylvania. Denis Villeneuve has made a career exploring strange and sometimes dark places. A new report from Deadline suggests that the French-Canadian filmmaker may add Ancient Egypt to his list of exotic subjects. Sony Pictures has begun talks with Villeneuve to direct an adaptation of Stacy Schiff’s bestselling biography Cleopatra: A Life. The book was a number 1 bestseller in 2010, making multiple “Best of 2010” lists and winning the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biography.
Villeneuve first found success in his native Canada, with his films Maelström(2001), Polytechnique (2009), and Incendies (2010), winning multiple awards including eight Genies. His first breakout film was 2013’s Prisoners, which won him many awards and a nomination for Best Cinematography at the 2014 Oscars. Enemy (2013), Sicario (2015), and Arrival (2016), all were massive successes, with Arrival getting eight Oscar nominations and a win for Best Sound Editing. It was also awarded the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 2017.
The adaptation of Cleopatra: A Life has been in the works for a long time, and Villeneuve is not the first high-profile director to be attached. David Fincher and James Cameron both came close to directing. Should Villeneuve take up the job, he will add it to a quite full slate of work in the coming years. Even when the new Blade Runner film comes out, Villeneuve is already on the hook for an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune for Legendary Pictures and has been rumored for a director’s spot in the 007 franchise.