Once viewed as lagging behind in the race to bring the epic story of Alexander the Great to the big screen, Oliver Stone’s picture is starting to hit on all cylinders in pre-production: It is putting the final touches of gaining global financing, has already begun early photography and is commencing secondary lead casting. Colin Farrell, as has been widely reported, has been signed on to star in the film, which will begin shooting in September for a fall 2004 release.
Baz Luhrmann’s project, meanwhile, looks to begin lensing in November, after star Leonardo DiCaprio has finished work on Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” Each project will focus on the lifespan of the fourth-century Macedonian conqueror, a move the U.K paper The Daily Telegraph said “could be one of the greatest Hollywood stand-offs.”
As had happened with two projects looking at a similar event or person— like the rescue of 513 POWs in the Philippines that became a race to the screen for “The Great Raid” and “Ghost Soldiers” projects last year, which the former won by getting in front of the cameras first— Stone’s first move could help derail the Universal project. Additionally, the Luhrmann project faces an additional hurdle in that the major studio financing the project, Universal, is now on the block to be sold; depending on the new owner, this project could fall victim to be shut down.
According to sources close to the production, auditions for the Warner Bros. project have started last week for the roles of Alexander’s mother and father, as well as for the military general Ptolemy. Earlier this week, casting notices have also began circulating for these additional lead characters:
Hephaiston: A Macedonian commander, he is Alexander’s closest friend and sometimes lover. Late 20s early 30s, dark and handsome, slightly larger-boned and stronger than Alexander; he looks like a natural leader but lacks a bit of Alexander’s essential charisma. He loves and supports Alexander through Alexander’s rise and fall, through his marriage to Roxane and his many other affairs.
Roxane: Alexander’s first wife. A teenager when we first meet her. Dark and ethnic in a way no longer seen – her look is gypsy-ish. She is beautiful and powerful. The casting notes relay that she “could possibly be of Afghani or Iranian descent.”
Bagoas: Young, dark, effeminate, beautiful. A Persian eunuch, he is the former lover of the Emperor Darius, Alexander inherits him when he conquers Darius and the Persian empire. He becomes Alexander’s servant and one of his lovers. Ever a servant, he must quietly swallow his jealousy over Alexander’s paramount affection for Hephaistion.
Announcements on these roles should be following shortly.
The production is also seeking any British or otherwise European male actors for other roles to be announced. If you are an actor or actress interested in any of these parts, please have your agent contact the casting agents listed below.
“Alexander” (Warner Bros.) Scorecard
Producers: Intermedia, Moritz Borman, Jon Kilik, Thomas Schuhly and Iain Smith
Director: Oliver Stone
Screenwriter: Christopher Kyle
Casting: Billy Hopkins, Suzanne Smith, Kerry Barden and Mark Bennett
Production Begins: 9/2003
Location: England, Other Locations TBD
Production Companies: Intermedia/Warner Bros.