The story is partly set against the tumultuous production of 'Cleopatra'

By Joey Nolfi
September 29, 2016 at 01:26 PM EDT
Mike Marsland/WireImage
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Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes might be jumping back into the director’s chair soon to helm upcoming drama Beautiful Ruins for Fox 2000. 

EW has confirmed Mendes signed on to produce the project, which features a screenplay written by Transparent‘s Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue and based on Jess Walter’s bestselling novel of the same name. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news, the film was in development at Cross Creek Pictures (Black Swan, Everest) with director Todd Field (Little Children) attached, though it stalled for unknown reasons, and Field exited. While Mendes is not currently attached to direct, he’s reportedly being considered to take the reins on the long-gestating movie.

If Mendes directs, Beautiful Ruins will mark the U.K. native’s first time helming a live-action feature since previously leading the James Bond franchise to worldwide box office success with 2012’s Spectre. The 51-year-old is also currently attached to direct the DreamWorks adaptation of Gay Talese’s controversy-ridden nonfiction novel,The Voyeur’s Motel

Beautiful Ruins revolves around an American actress who travels to Italy in 1962, where production on the most expensive flop in Hollywood history, Cleopatra, is underway. The plot spans multiple decades and locations, with the lead actress’ narrative intertwining with the trajectory of legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, who played the titular Queen of Egypt in the real-life Joseph L. Mankiewicz epic and famously had an affair with her Cleopatra costar Richard Burton.

Mendes is set to produce Beautiful Ruins through his Neal Street Productions (Revolutionary Road, Away We Go) alongside Julie Pastor. Walter will executive-produce the film with Neal Street’s Pippa Harris and Nicolas Brown.

Further details, including a release date and casting information, have yet to be released. 

Reporting by Oliver Gettell

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