Vanessa Kirby has been cast as Empress Josephine in Ridley Scott’s upcoming historical epic Kitbag, after original star Jodie Comer pulled out due to a scheduling conflict.
As revealed by Deadline, The Crown star Kirby – who was Oscar-nominated for her turn in Pieces of a Woman last year – will star opposite Joaquin Phoenix in the Apple film, which chronicles the origins of legendary French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte as he rose to power.
The film will be particularly focused on his “addictive and often volatile relationship” with his wife Josephine, and so Kirby’s role looks set to be a major one.
Comer had originally been due to star in the film following her acclaimed role in Scott’s The Last Duel but revealed during an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast that she would no longer be part of the project.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID and changes of schedule, I don’t think I can make Kitbag work now due to a scheduling conflict, which is rubbish,” she explained.
The only other cast member besides Phoenix and Kirby who has been confirmed thus far is Home and Stay Close star Youssef Kerkour, but Scott revealed last year that filming would begin this month.
The veteran director has been a busy man of late – having released both The Last Duel and House of Gucci last year, while a sequel to his turn of the century Oscar-winning hit Gladiator is also in the works.
Speaking about Kitbag – and the role of Josephine – in a previous interview with Deadline, he said: “I narrowed it down to what was so needful of Napoleon to this woman, and what became so needful for this woman to Napoleon Bonaparte. Why this connection? You can’t say sex because sex wears out, right? That would be way too simple.
“By the time he set eyes on her, she was already a courtesan, which means she was definitely a high-end lady in the courts where she was on the lookout for the next guy who had enough money that could cope with her. But also, she was vulnerable, which was key. She was mid-30s, and she knows beauty doesn’t last forever, and she knows she had to find something in her life to give her some kind of sense of permanence.”
Kirby’s other recent credits have included The World to Come and Italian Studies, while future projects include reprising her role as Alanna Mitsopolis in Mission: Impossible 7 and a key part in Florian Zeller’s drama The Son.