The news that Angelina Jolie has been cast to play Cleopatra in a film by Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin induces mixed reactions.
The project is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff's new book, Cleopatra: A Life, which hits stores in November but is already being called a "masterpiece." Rudin's office confirms that the project "is being developed for and with Jolie," and Schiff describes Angelina as having "the perfect look" to play the character.
- Cleopatra wasn't necessarily gorgeous.
Angelina is stunning. When it comes to Cleopatra, accounts vary. E!'s Ted Casablanca points out, "Even the great Elizabeth Taylor… discovered in her research (and later dished to us) that Cleopatra was 'a really homely woman.'" But according to Cassius Dio, Cleo's personality had a lot to do with it:
"She was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one. Being brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate every one, even a love-sated man already past his prime, she thought that it would be in keeping with her role to meet Caesar, and she reposed in her beauty all her claims to the throne."
- Cleopatra died when she was 39.
It's not that Angelina Jolie — 35 — looks old, or can't play younger. But Cleopatra became queen when she was 18. When Julius Caesar was assassinated and Cleopatra aligned with Mark Antony, Cleo was 25. Why not cast a twenty-something?
- Cleopatra was probably not light-skinned with blue eyes.
This is the most controversial issue: Greeks often claim she was Greek; North Africans often claim she was North African. According to Cambridge Univeristy's Dr. Sally Ann Ashton: