“He’s the Perfect Fit”: Ridley Scott Talks Joaquin Phoenix’s Epic Role as Napoleon Bonaparte

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Joker sealed the deal for Ridley Scott.

Scott, 85, knew that Phoenix, 48, was the perfect actor to play Napoleon in his upcoming film, Napoleon. The new flick, which is currently scheduled to release on November 22, 2023, is set to be a major historical epic. And Scott is confident that Phoenix will bring the complex and enigmatic figure of Napoleon to life.

“I’m staring at Joaquin and saying’ ‘This little demon is Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks like him.'” Scott said in an interview with Empire magazine.

Scott went on to compare Napoleon to a number of other figures throughout history.

“I compare him with Alexander The Great. Adolf Hitler. Stalin,” Scott continues. “Listen, he’s got a lot of bad s*** under his belt. At the same time, he was remarkable with his courage, and in his can-do, and in his dominance. He was extraordinary.”

Last December, Scott also commented in interviews about how he rewrote Napoleon due to Phoenix’s “constant questioning”.

“Joaquin is about as far from conventional as you can get,” Scott stated. “Not deliberately, but out of intuition. That’s what makes him tick. If something bothers him, he’ll let you know. He made (‘Napoleon’) special by constantly questioning.”

“With Joaquin, we can rewrite the godd*** film because he’s uncomfortable. And that kind of happened with ‘Napoleon’. We unpicked the film to help him focus on who Bonaparte was,” Scott added. “I had to respect that, because what was being said was incredibly constructive. It made it all grow bigger and better.”

Joaquin Phoenix’s History with Ridley Scott

Napoleon isn’t the first time that Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix have worked together. They previously teamed on the massive success that was 2000’s Gladiator.

Phoenix has also commented on his work in Napoleon and the opportunity to work with Scott again, saying, “There was just a very nostalgic idea of working with Ridley again.”

“I was so young. It was my first big production. I really yearned for that experience again, or something similar.” Phoenix added.

Will Napoleon Get Pushed to 2024?

It is unclear at present whether the current WGA and SAG strikes will result in Apple Studios (the production company) and Columbia Pictures (the distributor) pushing Napoleon to 2024. There has been some talk of films scheduled for release later in 2023 being pushed to 2024 for that very reason, including the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel (which Warner Bros. pushed from December 2023 to March 2024).

Due to the strike, writers and actors cannot talk about and promote their projects, which ultimately will impact awareness of new releases coming out. We’ll keep you posted as more details on Napoleon are released.