In the wake of Antonio Banderas’ upcoming turn as Pablo Picasso, other networks are rushing to tell more stories about famous historical figures. Amazon Prime is prepping for adventure with the announcement that Spanish actor Javier Bardem will star as 16th-century explorer Hernán Cortés in a four-episode series created by famed director Steven Spielberg.
The series, written by Steven Zaillian who crafted Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, will explore Cortes’ life, his expedition to Mexico, and his clash with the Aztecs that ended with their conquest. The script will be adapted from an early 1960s draft written by acclaimed blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo that never materialized. Bardem says, “It is a privilege to tell this epic story” and that he is “thrilled” to look at the “best and worst of human nature” alongside Spielberg and Zaillian.
Bardem is becoming a popular choice for famed personalities. Earlier this year reports said Bardem was in contention to play Cuban singer/dancer/actor Desi Arnaz in an upcoming Lucille Ball biopic, though that project is still in the early stages. As far as this project Bardem seems like a solid choice. On the surface, this sounds like a far better take on his villain character in the last Pirates of the Caribbean. Most people know Cortes solely as the slaughterer of the Aztecs, so it’ll be interesting to see if Spielberg and crew try to humanize him, which could create a controversy all its own. Right now the series is so early in development there’s no real angle developing short of it being a look at this important moment in history. Regardless, with Spielberg and Amazon working together this should be an opulent, prestige experience.