“He made Napoleon special by constantly questioning”- When Ridley Scott revealed Joaquin Phoenix made him rewrite the film
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Creative genius is often born out of challenging the status quo, and this is no different for the legendary director, Ridley Scott. After tapping Joaquin Phoenix to portray the iconic Emperor Napoleon in his 1972 period film, Scott knew he needed to do something extra to bring the character to life. With Phoenix’s help, Scott achieved just that by constantly questioning the character with rewrites to make Napoleon special. Here, we take a closer look into how Phoenix and Scott’s collaboration created one of the most remarkable cinematic depictions of the French leader.

Table of Contents

1. The Power of Ridley Scott’s Creative Direction

Ridley Scott is one of the most influential directors in film history, and his creative direction has had a lasting impact on cinema. His films explore innovative ways to explore human emotion, and his visual style has inspired generations of filmmakers. Here are just a few ways that Ridley Scott has made a lasting impact with his creative direction.

Making Epic Worlds

Ridley Scott is renowned for his ability to transport viewers into complex and beautiful worlds. His ability to create a believable universe for his films yields gorgeous visuals that draw viewers in. From the noir-esque metropolis of Los Angeles in Blade Runner to the awe-inspiring expanses of space in Prometheus, Ridley Scott is able to create worlds that truly come to life.

Exploring Deep Concepts

Ridley Scott doesn’t shy away from heavy topics in his films. His exploration of humanity goes far beyond the basic ideas and instead takes viewers on a journey of discovery and exploration. He has tackled themes such as mortality in the Alien franchise, artificial life in Blade Runner, and morality in The Martian. His films challenge audiences to think deeply about mankind’s place in the universe.

Bold Visuals

Ridley Scott is known for his incredible visuals. His ability to bring a sense of energy and excitement to a scene are unparalleled, and he has a knack for using bold and vibrant colors to create an atmosphere. From the contrasting hues of Alien to the dynamic lighting in Gladiator, Ridley Scott’s films are always visually stunning.

1. The Power of Ridley Scott's Creative Direction

2. Joaquin Phoenix: Making Napoleon Unforgettable

Joaquin Phoenix captivated audiences with his performance as Napoleon in the 2020 movie “The Mountains Between Us”. His portrayal of the diminutive, sharp-tongued Napoleon is extraordinary, and the way Phoenix captures the whims and adversities of the title character will remain unforgettable.

Taking a closer look it’s clear that the character of Napoleon is a powerful testament to the brilliance of Phoenix’s performance. Imbued with a subtle intensity, this character that Phoenix brings to life is often admirable, often terrifying, but always fascinating.

It was also interesting to note how Phoenix contrasted his character’s sometimes manic energy with moments of calm reflection. The moments when Napoleon pauses to consider his decisions feel almost meditative and offer a different side to Phoenix’s performance. Napoleon’s strengths, weaknesses and flaws are all apparent to the audience thanks to the work of Phoenix, and it will be a performance that people will be talking about for a long time.

3. How Questioning Led to Rewriting

When faced with a problem, the best strategy is to adopt a questioning attitude. This is what I did when I decided to rewrite my novel. Instead of just jumping in, I took the time to ask myself some important questions. I made a list, and it went something like this:

  • What can I do differently this time?
  • What elements of the novel need more focus?
  • What parts of the story could be improved?

Taking the time to ask these questions not only helped me come up with interesting ideas, but it also showed me where I could make improvements. Suddenly, the rewriting process became much easier, and I was able to come up with some bold new ways to tell my story. I added new characters, changed the plot, and explored alternate paths.

I also took the opportunity to refine my writing style. I experimented with different genres and literary techniques, and most importantly, I learned to appreciate the beauty in editing. After all, writing is a process of constant evolution and improvement.

4. Revisiting Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix’s Collaboration

Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix have a long filmmaking history, starting with 2001’s Gladiator. Following the award-winning success of that movie, the two worked together on The Counselor (2013) and Alien: Covenant (2017). Now, in 2020, with the release of The Last Duel, Scott and Phoenix are starting a new adventure.

The Last Duel is a historical epic about the notorious 14th-century battle between two French knights. Phoenix stars as Jean de Carrouges while Scott directs the intense and thrilling affair. While still huge fans of their preceding collaborations, many are looking to the upcoming Scott/Phoenix film to see if it can reach the same heights as Gladiator.

To prepare for The Last Duel, Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix watched several films together – including films by Akira Kurosawa – and worked closely together to create the perfect chemistry between their characters. Phoenix’s performance is sure to be richly layered and masterfully intense in terms of expression, and Ridley Scott’s visuals are sure to be top-notch. There’s no doubt the two will deliver a great movie.

  • Gladiator (2001)
  • The Counselor (2013)
  • Alien: Covenant (2017)
  • The Last Duel (2020)


Q1. What challenges did Ridley Scott face with Joaquin Phoenix?
A1. Ridley Scott faced the unique challenge of working alongside Joaquin Phoenix, who was determined to help shape the film’s narrative. He kept pushing for Scott to rewrite the script in order to emphasize Napoleon’s unique traits, motivations, and personality.

Q2. How did Joaquin Phoenix make Napoleon special?
A2. By constantly questioning and pushing Ridley Scott to rewrite the script, Phoenix was able to convey a better understanding of Napoleon’s unique characteristics. Moreover, the rewrites also served to bring out the complexity of Napoleon’s psychology and motivations, helping to shape the character into a more three-dimensional individual.

Q3. What impact did Joaquin Phoenix have on Ridley Scott’s work?
A3. Joaquin Phoenix pushed Ridley Scott to think deeply about how to convey Napoleon’s complexities and idiosyncrasies. His insistence on character-driven acting ultimately raised the bar for Ridley Scott, and encouraged him to approach the film with a more creative outlook.


In the end, it is clear that Joaquin Phoenix has an immense understanding of the power of cinema. His creativity and talent, combined with Ridley Scott’s direction, made “Napoleon” an iconic movie worth remembering.

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