Denzel Washington has been cast the ancient Carthaginian general Hannibal in an upcoming untitled epic drama for Netflix, Deadline is reporting. The news comes as the SAG-AFTRA strike is ending, and the actor is able to begin working on films again.
The film, which is the two-time Oscar-winning actor’s first casting announcement since SAG-AFTRA struck a deal with the AMPTP on November 9, will re-team him with filmmaker Antoine Fuqua. They first collaborated together on the 2001 crime thriller, “Training Day,” for which Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
The duo also worked together on the popular vigilante crime thriller “Equalizer” trilogy. Washington also appeared in Fuqua’s 2016 Western action remake of “The Magnificent Seven” alongside his “Training Day” co-star, Ethan Hawke, as well as Chris Pratt and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Three-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, who was nominated for penning “Gladiator,” “The Aviator” and “Hugo,” is scribing the script for the upcoming Netflix drama. Fuqua, Washington, Erik Olsen and Adam Goldworm will produce the film. Jeremy Lott and Frank Rodriguez Moll will serve as executive producers on the movie.
The film falls under Fuqua’s production company, Hill District Media’s, first-look deal with Netflix. The deal was announced in December 2021 after the success release of the crime thriller, “The Guilty,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal.
“Working with Netflix on “The Guilty” was such a rewarding experience, both from an artistic and collaborative point of view. I’m beyond excited to continue this relationship and expand our slate of films with a partner that shares our vision at Hill District Media,” Fuqua said at the time.
Washington was originally interested in making a project about Hannibal more than 20 years ago. However, at the time, Fox wanted to wait until the actor was finished raising his children, as he didn’t want to be away from them for an extended period.
Washington’s son, John David Washington, is now carving his own career as an actor in Hollywood. The younger performer has starred in such movies as “BlacKkKlansman,” “Tenet” and most recently, “The Creator.”
Hannibal is known for riding an elephant over the Alps and attacking Rome from the North. At the time, he posed the greatest threat to the republic. Hannibal was a skilled military tactician who led the troops in what is now Tunisia, not far from Sicily. The film will follow the pivotal battles he led against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC).
The general’s military victories during the Second Punic War are legendary, which is why Hollywood has wanted to make a biopic about him for decades. Vin Diesel was even attached to a rival film about Hannibal at one point. But in general, few actors have the bankability to make the costly project worthwhile.
Besides the Hannibal biopic, Washington is also set to return to another highly anticipated epic historical drama soon. The Golden Globe-winning actor is working on the Roman Empire-set Gladiator 2, which is being directed and produced by Ridley Scott. The actor will be joined on screen by Paul Mescal, Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Joseph Quinn, Fred Hechinger, and Pedro Pascal.
The movie will serve as a sequel to the filmmaker’s Oscar-winning 2000 period piece, Gladiator. The series’ second entry is set to restart production shortly and is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2024.
Fuqua, meanwhile, is also helming a biographical movie about Michael Jackson titled Michael. The film will feature the Grammy Award-winning singer’s nephew, Jaafar Jackson, portray the iconic King of Pop.