A long-dormant script from Spartacus and Roman Holiday screenwriter Dalton Trumbo has found new life at Amazon with the help of Steven Spielberg and Javier Bardem. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming studio has given a straight-to-series order to Cortes, a new four-hour miniseries based on the life of conquistador Hernan Cortes and how his relationship with Aztec emperor Montezuma shaped the course of history.
The series is created for television and written by Oscar-winning Schilder’s List screenwriter Steven Zaillian, based on the screenplay from the late Trumbo. Bardem is set to star. Spielberg and Amblin Television will executive produce the miniseries with Bardem, Zaillian, and Amblin co-heads Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. Amblin has been revving things up on the TV front over recent years with FX’s The Americans, CBS’ Bull, Apple’s upcoming Amazing Stories revival and Hulu’s new seasons of Animaniacs
“We are so pleased that Amazon has given us the opportunity to bring this exciting 500-year-old story to Prime Video members worldwide. It is a part of history that had such a significant impact and largely influenced modern day civilizations. With Javier as Cortes, we have the perfect star for this role, and we can’t wait to get started,” Frank and Falvey said in a joint statement.
Bardem added, “It is a privilege to tell this epic story — one that is full of drama and conflict within this huge, historical spectacle where two distant civilizations clash at the height of their reign. The best and worst of human nature came to life in all its light and darkness. As an actor, there is no better challenge than to serve such a unique project that I have been passionate about for years, and I am thrilled to be working with this dream team of Steven Spielberg, Steven Zaillian and Amazon.”
The script was originally written in the 1960s, a decade after Trumbo was blacklisted from the film making industry as a part of the Hollywood Ten — the group of filmmakers who refused to answer questions regarding possible communist affiliations — and was originally intended to reteam Trumbo with Spartacus lead Kirk Douglas. The project was revived in 2014 at DreamWorks under the name Montezuma with Spielberg in talks to direct and Bardem in talks to star. Now that the project has new life as a mini-series at Amazon, it’s unclear if Spielberg will direct.