EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Kirby is Ridley Scott’s choice to play Empress Josephine opposite Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon in Kitbag, the historical drama for Apple that begins production this spring. She will replace Jodie Comer, who exited the project over scheduling. Her reps are negotiating a deal for Kirby, who is coming off an Oscar nomination for her gut-wrenching performance in Pieces of a Woman.
Scripted by Scott’s All the Money in the World collaborator David Scarpa, Kitbag explores Bonaparte’s origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, through the lens of his addictive and often volatile relationship with the Empress. Scott and Kevin Walsh are producing for Scott Free. Deadline first broke the news of Scott’s plan to direct the film and reunite with Gladiator star Phoenix in October of 2020, as well as Apple Studios’ commitment to finance and produce the project.
Kirby earned her first Oscar nomination just this year for her turn as Martha, a Boston woman struggling to endure the loss of a child, in Pieces of a Woman, starring in the Kornél Mundruczó Netflix film alongside Shia LaBeouf and Ellen Burstyn. The BAFTA Award winner who has also notched nominations at the Emmys, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and SAG Awards is otherwise best known for her portrayal of Princess Margaret in the first and second seasons of Netflix’s The Crown.
Kirby was tapped over the summer to star alongside Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern in The Son—Florian Zeller’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning debut feature, The Father. She will also soon star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the survival thriller Suddenly from A Prophet scribe Thomas Bidegain, and reprise her role as The White Widow in the seventh and eighth installments of the Mission Impossible franchise, to which she was first introduced via 2018’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Kirby will next be seen in Adam Leon’s Italian Studies, a Magnolia Pictures drama which she also exec produced, which is slated for release in theaters and on demand on January 14.
The actress is represented by CAA, Hamilton Hodell in the UK, Linden Entertainment and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.