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Joaquin Phoenix Was Deeply Involved In Shaping Ridley Scott's Upcoming Napoleon Movie

It's now been over two decades since director-producer Ridley Scott collaborated with Joaquin Phoenix on a movie. That movie, of course, was 2000's "Gladiator," in which Phoenix played Commodus, the ruthless leader of ancient Rome. Flash forward to today, and fans now are looking forward to seeing Phoenix as another historical leader in Scott's upcoming film, "Napoleon."

Of course, both Phoenix and Scott have been keeping busy in the years since working together. Phoenix has performed in plenty of quality films such as "The Master," "Her," and "Joker." Behind the camera, Scott has continued his tradition of ambitious projects, including "Black Hawk Down," "Prometheus," and "The Martian." Before beginning work on "Napoleon," the English-born filmmaker jumped back into the epic-historical-drama genre with his 2021 film, "The Last Duel."

Phoenix steps into the boots of Napoleon Bonaparte for the new movie (originally titled "Kitbag"), which will be released exclusively on Apple TV+ in 2023. Based on what we know so far, the film follows Bonaparte's rise to power "viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine," as the official synopsis puts it. In a recent interview, Scott commented that based on his observations, the way Phoenix dove into his performance helped shape the movie.

Phoenix's method made Scott call the film one of his most challenging

At the turn of the millennium, fans of historical epics heaped praise upon Ridley Scott's "Gladiator," which costarred Joaquin Phoenix as the powerful emperor, Commodus. Now, the two are collaborating once again on "Napoleon." Scott tells EmpireOnline, "['Napoleon' was] one of my most challenging but also one of my best experiences, with any actor." Scott explained that during filming, he got to experience firsthand how Phoenix has developed since their last team-up. "Joaquin is about as far from conventional as you can get," Scott said. "Not deliberately, but out of intuition. That's what makes him tick. If something bothers him, he'll let you know."

Clearly not the type of actor to simply memorize and repeat lines of dialogue, Phoenix approached each step of his character's story arc by jumping into the development, right alongside Scott. "He made [the movie] special by constantly questioning," Scott said of Phoenix's deep dive into the French military commander/leader. "We unpicked the film to help him focus on who Bonaparte was." Fans will soon get to see how Phoenix's intensive character work pays off. According to Scott, these tactics not only helped shape the character, but the whole film, as well. "It made it all grow bigger and better," he said.