Angelina Jolie, who is noted for her exotic beauty, hopes to play down Cleopatra as a sex symbol when she takes on the role in an upcoming remake of the classic Elizabeth Taylor film, which is already steeped in controversy.
Jolie hopes to emphasize Cleopatra’s role as a political leader who did everything she could to preserve her kingdom in the face of the very powerful Roman Empire.
“We are trying to get into a different truth about her as a pharaoh in history and not as a sex symbol, because she really wasn’t,” Jolie told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper yesterday (May 30).
“Even this idea of her having many lovers – it was possible that it was only two. She is very interesting, but she wasn’t a great beauty,” Jolie said. “She has been very misunderstood.”
The popular image of Cleopatra was created by Taylor in the 1963 film, which starred Richard Burton as Marc Antony and Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar. Roddy McDowall and Martin Landau also starred.
Taylor portrayed Cleopatra as an exotic beauty and seductress.
Angelina, who is often misunderstood herself, wants to underscore Cleopatra’s amazing parenting and intelligence, and focus less on her looks and sexuality
“I thought it was all about the glamor, but then I read about her and she was a very strong mother, she spoke five languages and she was a leader.”
The film is already enveloped in controversy because of protests that Cleopatra is of African heritage while Jolie is white.
African-American actresses Halle Berry and Zoe Saldana have been mentioned as better candidates for the role.
But others say Cleopatra was Macedonian and a descendant of Alexander the Great who conquered Egypt and set up his own dynasty. As such, she had no African blood.
Angelina, an adrenaline junkie who flies her own planes and rides motorcycles, is drawn to adventure, but is also trying to soften her own image.
“I love being a woman,” says Angelina. “I love that I can have children.
“I love feeling soft, I love being with Brad, I love all the sensitivity and natural emotion.”
Jolie and Pitt have six children: Maddox, 9; Pax, 7; Zahara, 6; Shiloh, 5, and the two-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.
Brad recently hinted that he and Jolie may be getting married after five years together.