According to Deadline, Steven Spielberg is eyeing a 49-year old script considered to be one of Hollywood’s great unmade projects – Montezuma. It was penned by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumo and will be renamed Cortez, with Spaniard Javier Bardem potentially in the leading role as the eponymous conquistador. Academy Award winning scribe of Schindler’s List, Steve Zaillan, is adapting a new script inspired closely by the original.
For Contempt of Congress, Dalton Trumo spent 11 months in jail as part of the Hollywood Ten. These were ten writers who refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s Communist witch-hunt. (Woody Allen stars in The Front, a great depiction of this travesty). Trumo’s career was resurrected in 1960 when Kirk Douglas hired him to pen the script for Spartacus, directed by Stanley Kubrick and winner of the Golden Globe for Best Picture. In 1965 Kirk Douglas hired Trumo again to write the script for Montezuma that was supposed to be directed by Martin Ritt (Hud) but the project fell through.
Cortez, will tell the story from Hernan Cortez’s point of view, recalling his infiltration into Mexico, first befriending Montezuma, then infecting his population with smallpox and imprisoning Montezuma, where the Aztec king was killed by his own countrymen. Lastly, after Montezuma’s death, Cortez fathered a child with Montezuma’s only daughter.
Steve Zaillan is writing the script and backing the project as a producer, along with Steven Spielbergs’ Dreamworks. Zaillan is currently producing his Moses epic screenplay Exodus, with Ridley Scott directing and Christian Bale starring as Moses.