The war between the two Leos is underway at the box office, and soon Leonardo DiCaprio may find himself part of another big-screen battle. He's in talks to play Alexander the Great for director Baz Luhrmann, while Oliver Stone is cooking up a similar flick with Colin Farrell in the conqueror's saddle.
Stone ("JFK"), Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge"), Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") and Martin Scorsese ("Gangs of New York") have all wanted to tackle the tale of the young bisexual Macedonian warrior who took over most of the known world 2,300 years ago. Scott has since moved on, but Luhrmann is ready to go, with Scorsese as a producer and a script by Ted Tally ("Red Dragon") based on a trio of novels by Italian historian Valerio Manfredi.
A spokesperson for DiCaprio — whose "Catch Me If You Can" and "Gangs of New York" are both in theaters — described him as "very interested" in starring in "Alexander the Great" and said that final contractual arrangements are underway. DiCaprio previously worked with Luhrmann on 1996's "Romeo + Juliet." Luhrmann also wants Nicole Kidman to play Alexander's mother, Olympia, though representatives for the busy actress insist she is not yet officially onboard.
"Alexander the Great" is scheduled to begin production toward the end of the year, with Morocco's King Mohammed VI lending Luhrmann 5,000 soldiers and 1,000 horses and Universal Pictures reportedly approving a budget of close to $150 million. Meanwhile, Stone plans to shoot his flick, simply titled "Alexander," in the same country, beginning in June.
While Luhrmann's "Alexander the Great" will reportedly focus on Alexander's complicated love life, "JFK" director Stone told a U.K. newspaper that his version will explore a conspiracy theory that holds Alexander was poisoned by his own generals.
Whichever film makes it to the finish line first, the tale of the two Alexander films is certainly not the first time Hollywood has raced to get two projects together about the same real-life figure. "Without Limits," a 1998 movie starring Billy Crudup as late Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine, came out just a year after Jared Leto's "Prefontaine."