NBC Orders 'Epic' Cleopatra Pilot from Lorenzo Di Bonaventura -- Who Should Star?

All hail the queen… of Egypt.

NBC has given a put pilot order to an “epic” take on Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, our sister site Deadline reports.

Written by Michael Seitzman and coproduced by ABC Studios and filmmaker Lorenzo Di Bonaventura’s eponymous shingle, the series would be set in “a world of sorcery, gods and monsters” and revolve around Cleopatra, Mark Antony and Julius Caesar, “an infamous love triangle that changes the course of history, forever ending the 4,000-year dominion of the Pharaoh.”

Cleo’s suicide [er, spoiler alert!] would be saved for the series finale, I reckon, unless the project is one giant in media res thing.

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Seitzman this past pilot season penned the fashion-themed sudser Americana, which fell just shy of getting picked up by ABC, while Di Bonaventura — who like Seitzman has a deal at ABC Studios — successfully sold the Anthony Edwards-fronted conspiracy thriller Zero Hour, to bow at midseason for ABC.

The “put pilot” status for their Cleopatra tale means NBC would pay a penalty if it never sees the light of day, so… it’s almost a sure thing.

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A new big-screen take on Cleopatra has been talked about for some time, to star Angelina Jolie and be directed by David Fincher. Who is your pick to play the regal icon for NBC? (Put your hand down, Lindsay Lohan….)

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131 Comments
  1. Jessica says:

    Mariska Hargitay

    • RachelA says:

      She is way too old. It needs to be someone in their early twenties. Also someone who vaguely matches in terms of aesthetic ethnicity.

  2. Dzsi25 says:

    Monica Raymund or Morena Baccarin

  3. Abby says:

    Naya Rivera

  4. The best choice of all for Cleopatra would be Aubrey Plaza.

  5. RachelA says:

    All I have to say about this is that she should not be white. Given the anthropological history of region, Cleopatra likely was not a dark-skinned Black woman, but she would NOT have been white either. The white-washing of her as a historical figure by Hollywood REALLY bothers me. So whoever is cast, they should not have pale skin and blue eyes, a la Liz Taylor. She needs to match the enthnic asthetics of the people of that region at that time. I really like the idea of Archie Panjabi or Naya Rivera. Morena Baccarin also works for me.

    • Sean C. says:

      Cleopatra’s physical appearance is not based on the “anthropological history of the region”. We know her ethnic background with a great deal of specificity: Macedonian, probably with some Mesopotamian mixed in.

  6. Geoff says:

    It doesn’t really matter who stars, NBC will screw it up. Worst network.

  7. lil says:

    Don’t remove my comment. Whoever they chose WILL probably be super white. Not a racist comment, just the Hollywood truth. Naya can’t act.

  8. JHarnes says:

    HBO could do it. The politics of the court was just as nasty and bloody as anything in the Godfather. For those who don’t study History: Cleopatra was a descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty. a Macedonian (Greek) royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC. They were the last dynasty of ancient Egypt.

    Ptolemy was one of the six somatophylakes (bodyguards) who served as Alexander the Great’s generals and deputies. Ptolemy was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander’s death in 323 BC. In 305 BC, he declared himself King Ptolemy I, later known as “Soter” (saviour). The Egyptians soon accepted the Ptolemies as the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt. Ptolemy’s family ruled Egypt until the Roman conquest of 30 BC. By the way the name Cleopatra is Macedonian.

    Now these were one mafia-like group of rulers. The family tended to interbreed – father/daughter, sister/brother, ect. They made a game out of getting the crown and relatives were constantly killing each other.

    Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, is suppose to have had several siblings killed. Recently, one of these — archeologists believe her tomb founds in the 20’s is hers, was sister Princess Arsinöe. The young woman’s body thought to be Princess Arsinöe was examined using computerized reconstruction techniques that appear to show she had the physical characteristics of a mixture of white European, black African and ancient Egyptian.

    I just doubt NBC will put together the type of high quality show that would be needed to make this work. Examples: Kings… Playboy Club… The Event… The Cape… Jay Leno at 10 p.m. five days a week, or how about Crusoe…

  9. Ally says:

    Leonor Varela (she played Marta del Sol on Dallas this year) is my top pick.

  10. JustinJohnson says:

    two words for you: Lindsay Lohan

  11. John says:

    Kristen Stewart will be brilliant in this.

  12. If I was the casting director, I would throw all my money at Morena Baccarin to try and woo her onto the show. She has the looks, is superb at pulling off the regal personality, and she would pull in so much audience with her fans.

    In terms of age though, I think someone like Troian Bellisario or Shay Mitchell would be more appropraite. I know they’re on PLL, but they both have fabulous exotic looks and it would be great to see them off of ABC family.

    And my curve-ball would be Olivia Wilde. How cool would it be to see her cat-eyes surrounded by that thick, black eyeliner?

  13. Carolyn says:

    Nadia Bjorlin. She certainly has the look and should be just the right age.

  14. JoeJoe says:

    These women will only come for a 5 year gauranteed contract. That is the only way to do this kind of show and have it turn out good. From the time she meets Ceasar, with flashbacks to her childhood, to when Ceasor is killed, and then the end with Mark Antony. What about Catherine Bell doesn’t she have Iranian ancestry and speaks Farshe.

  15. Lou Lozano says:

    Let’s see… The first name that popped into my head was Olivia Wilde. Then there’s Mila Kunis. Or how about Patricia Velasquez? But wait. Maybe it should be someone not known in movies. Charisma Carpenter is another possibility, but her track record on TV has been spotty at best since her days on “Angel”. BTW, all the suggestions that Gilda made earlier are terrific too!