Joaquin Phoenix Becomes French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte on Set of Upcoming Ridley Scott Movie

Joaquin Phoenix plays Napoleon Bonaparte opposite Vanessa Kirby as his wife Josephine in the film, directed by Ridley Scott

EXCLUSIVE: First Pictures! First on set pictures of Joaquin Phoenix as French military leader and emperor Napoleon
Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte. Photo: Click News/Goff/

Joaquin Phoenix is making history.

The 47-year-old Oscar winner was photographed Tuesday in costume as French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte on the London set of his upcoming movie directed by Ridley Scott, with whom he made the 2000 film Gladiator.

When Deadline reported Phoenix's casting news for the project back in October 2020, the film was described as focusing on Bonaparte's historic battles, ambition and strategy that made him a historical military leader.

Playing Bonaparte's wife Josephine, with whom he had a tumultuous relationship, is Vanessa Kirby, who replaced Jodie Comer in the role.

"Honoured to be joining you on this journey," Oscar nominee Kirby, 34, wrote on Instagram when sharing news of her casting in January.

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EXCLUSIVE: First Pictures! First on set pictures of Joaquin Phoenix as French military leader and emperor Napoleon
Set of Ridley Scott's Napoleon Bonaparte film. Click News/Goff/

Bonaparte rose to power during France's revolutionary wars and became emperor in 1804. He was exiled to Elba in 1814, escaped and reigned as emperor again until his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. He was then re-exiled to St. Helena, where he died in 1821 at the age of 51.

Phoenix won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in 2019's Joker, and was previously nominated for his turns in Gladiator, Walk the Line and The Master.

Scott, 84, directed two movies that hit theaters last year: House of Gucci and The Last Duel.

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In January, Scott told The Hollywood Reporter that Bonaparte's relationship with Josephine is what intrigued him to take on the project.

"You've got to serve battles, and action, and sex with great restraint. Otherwise, it all gets boring," he told the magazine.

Scott added, "What is it about Napoleon that makes him fascinating? Very simply this: a man who was one of the most powerful men in history, yet is so reliant on a woman."

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