This story is not gossip. This story is not conjecture. This story is about as close to the truth as you’re ever going to get.
In an interview originally run on the Zap2It web site, Ridley Scott talks about his plans to make a film about Alexander the Great. During the interview, Scott shoots down Martin Scorsese’s proposed version: “I don’t think they even have a script,” Scott says in regards to Scorsese’s version. “I’ve got a script coming in. Ted Tally’s writing it.” Well, in case Mr. Scott should find his way out to this site, let me tell him once and for all that not only does Martin Scorsese have a script, but he has the best freakin script he just might ever work with.
Several years ago, after winning an Oscar for writing The Usual Suspects. Christopher McQuarrie was given the opportunity to do basically whatever he wanted. What he wanted to do was direct a movie about the life of Alexander the Great, from a screenplay by playwright turned screenwriter Peter Buchman. Who the hell was Peter Buchmanr Someone very few people had ever heard of, despite his ability to turn a phrase, so that was strike number one. Then McQuarrie wanted to cast Matthew McConaughey as Alexander and Jude Law as his sort of Man Friday. Now, this is long before A.I. or The Talented Mr. Ripley. So now we have two strikes against the project. Then there was McQuarrie himself, who rather insisted on a hefty budget for his directing debut. How heftyr We’re talking the modern day equivalent of Lawrence of Arabia here. Shooting in the desert, bringing pachyderms in from around the globe for a more authentic feel, as accurate as costumes could be… Pearl Harbor would have been a short from Roger Corman in comparison. After all, he named his production company Aqaba.
So McQuarrie went off and made The Way Of The Gun. For better or for worse. And Buchman, on the strength of this unproduced screenplay, was able to secure a jon on Jurassic Park III. For better or for worse. And now Warners would like Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio to team up to make this movie work. For better or for worse.
Now, I know two people who have read the allegedly non-existent screenplay for Alexander The Great. One is my ex-wife Heather, who was good friends with McQuarrie. The other is McQuarrie himself, who I knew individually from her for a brief part of my life. I’ve heard both of them talk fondly about this screenplay. McQuarrie is a great writer. He’s one of the best script doctors in town, and you would freak if you knew half of the movies he’s worked on… and kill yourself if you knew how much he was getting paid. For him to spend so much energy trying to get someone else’s script made is a compliment in and of itself. My ex-wife, on the other hand, pretty much hates movies. I’ve seen more movies in the past three months since moving to New York than I did the three years I was with her. But to listen to her talk about Buchman’s script, something I sadly still have not have the opportunity to read for myself, you would think she wrote the damn thing herself. It created a PASSION in her. Something I rarely saw in her during our time together, but that’s another story for another time.
Point being… if Ridley Scott would spend a little more time trying to make a complete film for once, rather than 90% brilliant films that fall to junk at the end, instead of passing on unreliable information about projects he has nothing to do with… well, he might have won an Oscar or two by now and he’d stop revisiting Blade Runner, the true genius film he’s ever made.