Queen of the Desert


We’ve been hearing about Werner Herzog’s Gertrude Bell biopic, Queen of the Desert, for quite a while now. Not only is it an enticing project because it’s going to see a crazy man like Herzog taking a film crew out to the desert for a big shoot, but it was also looking like something everyone was going to look forward to because it had Naomi Watts starring as Bell. Everyone loves Naomi Watts, especially when she gets to play a strong character like Bell, who was an explorer, politician, archeologist, and who did quite a bit to influence policy in the Middle East during the early parts of the 20th century. Basically, she was Indiana Jones crossed with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but real. And a lady. The bad news here is that Deadline is reporting Watts can no longer star in the film. And really, who can blame her? Being out in the desert with Herzog for who knows how long sounds scary as all get out. The good news is that the production still looks to be on, as Herzog has found another white lady with an accent, Nicole Kidman, to take her place.


Nicolas Cage

What is Casting Couch? It’s your Monday look at all of the great work casting agents and PR people did over the weekend to keep those Hollywood gears turning. UPDATED: We dreamed too soon, kids. It seems like Sylvester Stallone is fully committed to his experiment of figuring out how many big name celebrities have to be packed into an Expendables movie before one of them actually becomes interesting. The latest news regarding his quest (found on Stallone’s Facebook page by JoBlo) is that Nicolas Cage has been confirmed for a role in The Expendables 3, and that Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Mickey Rourke are the names he intends on recruiting next. You keep on trucking there, Mr. Stallone. With the addition of just five or ten more celebrities, The Expendables 3 is bound to be the one that finally gets out of first gear and actually becomes a decent action movie. We have faith!


Saldana Simone and Pattinson Lawrence

Two more projects based on real-life icons are emerging from the fold. According to The Grid, Zoe Saldana is set to play Nina Simone in Nina – a biopic about the famed singer and civil rights activist. The biggest challenge, of course, will be trying to recreate such a rich singing voice, but it’s unclear as to whether the plan is to have the actress perform the music herself or to lip-sync. Saldana will next be seen in The Words, the forthcoming Star Trek sequel, and a handful of dramatic projects like Out of the Furnace. On the same front, Robert Pattinson will be portraying T.E. Lawrence for Werner Herzog according to Variety. As we’ve reported before, the certifiably (and wonderfully) insane director has been prepping Queen of the Desert – a biopic of traveler Gertrude Bell. Pattinson will be portraying Lawrence, who was a close friend of Bell’s – further solidifying his goal of picking left-field projects after gaining popularity in the Twilight series. Without a doubt, his casting represents a tacit challenge to Herzog to out-weird the birth of a half-human/half-vampire baby on screen. If anyone can do it, he probably already has.


Bell in Basra

Extremely German filmmaker and all around badass Werner Herzog has written a new biopic called Queen of the Desert. The film is about the life of Gertrude Bell, an Englishwoman whose travels and writings put her in a position to be an influential policy maker for the British Empire in Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. She helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in what has become modern day Jordan and Iraq, and was said to be held in high regard not just by British officials, but by the Arab leaders she worked with as well. Herzog is in negotiations with acclaimed actress and beloved hottie Naomi Watts about taking on the role of Bell. I can imagine news of a film about the politics and international policy of the early 1900s being met with a big yawn if it were coming from another source, but when it comes from Herzog I have visions of Lawrence of Arabia dancing through my head. Could any sort of film shoot that gets Herzog out in the desert with a cast and crew end up as being anything less than completely interesting? Will people starve to death out there trying to get this thing shot to his specifications? Will someone go mad from exposure? Adding the good-in-everything-she-does Watts onto the project is just the cherry on top of this sandy sundae; and her attachment to something that sounds so epic and Oscar-baity almost assures that it will get made. Put me down for a […]

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published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015

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