Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! After near-endless battles over which Alexander the Great project would get off the ground first — Baz Luhrmann’s with Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman or Oliver Stone’s with Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie — it’s all over. Stone has won a place in our 2004 Forecast issue; Baz Luhrmann, we’ll check in with you a year from now.
Not that it was easy. The two productions played chicken for almost a year and a half, fighting for international financing, studio support, and momentum. ”It was incredibly distracting,” says Stone. ”I can’t say that we weren’t paying attention to what they were doing. We were. And we were rushed.” His script, which crosscuts between Alexander’s conquests and his childhood (about which very little is known), went through a rapid series of polishes. And after Intermedia and German financier IMF put up the lion’s share of the $125 million-plus budget, and Warner Bros. signed on as the film’s U.S. distributor, principal photography finally started in September 2003. To save money, Stone committed to a staggeringly short shooting schedule — only 87 days in locations as far-flung as Morocco, London, and Thailand. Marvels Farrell of the speedy production: ”Oliver’s not David Lean. He’s f—ing Cassavetes!”