Robert Graves’s novel, I, Claudius: Stutterin’ to the Top of the Roman Empire, was the basis for the greatest television miniseries of all time. What are the chances it will inspire the greatest movie of all time? And what are the chances I could come up with a lamer intro to this piece?
Producer Scott Rudin, who needs to email me immediately re: Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (still listed as TBA 2007 much to my frustration), has just purchased the film rights to Graves’s novel for a cool $2 million in the hopes that Leo DiCaprio will star as the man who overcame a limp and a stutter to rule the Roman Empire. Rudin is also hoping to snag Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Monahan, who not only loves him some historical epics (see Kingdom of Heaven and the as-yet-unproduced Tripoli), but also has a solid working relationship with DiCaprio (who’s currently starring alongside Russell Crowe in the Monahan-scripted, Ridley Scott-directed Body of Lies).
Though there’s no way a three-hour rendition of Graves’s novel could ever match the twelve-hour breadth of the BBC production, I could see the novel being effectively telescoped if they cut out… okay, I have no idea how I, Claudius works at three hours. Hopefully, Rudin discussed this with Monahan before outbidding several studios for the feature rights (according to Michael Fleming, Monahan and DiCaprio were being packaged by Warner Brothers); otherwise, he might be out to Randall Wallace before the end of the month. No one wants that.
It’s a shame that the Image DVD set of I, Claudius is apparently garbage, because I’ve got a Derek Jacobi jones right about now – one that a Nanny McPhee/Dead Again double feature cannot sate.