Gladiator Duo Joaquin Phoenix And Ridley Scott’s Napoleon Movie Just Recast A Major Role

Jodie Comer in The Last Duel and Vanessa Kirby in Hobbs & Shaw
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios and Universal Pictures)

Following their time together on Gladiator with Russell Crowe, actor Joaquin Phoenix and director Ridley Scott are finally re-teaming for another historical epic. Kitbag will see Phoenix playing French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and originally the plan was for The Last Duel star Jodie Comer to star opposite as Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine. As to today though, that will no longer be happening, but not to worry, as Comer’s role has already been recast.

Regarding why Jodie Comer will no longer appear in Kitbag, the actress cited scheduling issues and COVID-19 as the culprits while speaking with THR, calling the turn of events “rubbish.” Kitbag is set to begin shooting in Europe this January, and Comer is getting ready for rehearsals this March on the West End production Prima Facie, which will have a limited engagement from April to June. In the end, it just wasn’t possible for Comer to do both these projects, so Kitbag had to go, but maybe she and Ridley Scott will be able to collaborate again down the line after working together on The Last Duel, which co-starred Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Adam Driver.

Now the plan is for Vanessa Kirby to play Joséphine instead. According to Deadline, Kirby’s reps are negotiating a deal for her to join Kitbag. Along with earning an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Martha Weiss in Pieces of a Woman, Kirby’s other notable credits include Jupiter Ascending, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. She’ll also star with Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern and Anthony Hopkins in the upcoming drama The Son.

Clearly Ridley Scott and his Kitbag team didn’t waste anytime time finding someone to replace Jodie Comer, and with Vanessa Kirby finalizing the arrangements to come aboard, it sounds like the filming plans won’t be impacted. Written by David Scarpa, who penned Ridley Scott’s 2017 movie All the Money in the World, Kitbag will delve into how Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power in both the military and politics,  with the story being filtered through his “addictive and often volatile relationship” with Joséphine. The title comes from the phrase, “There is a general’s staff hidden in every soldier’s kitbag.”

Unlike The Last Duel, which was distributed by 20th Century Studios as a theatrical-exclusive release, Kitbag has been acquired by Apple TV+. It’s unclear how much the streaming service paid for Ridley Scott’s next feature, as well as if it will also play in theaters. It’s one of many high-profiles movies Apple TV+ has snatched up since its inception, with past examples including Greyhound and Cherry, and other upcoming offerings including Killers of the Flower Moon, Argylle and Emancipation. With Kitbag’s principal photography’s just weeks away, hopefully we’ll learn about the actors who are joining Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby in the main cast soon.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more news concerning Kitbag, including when it will drop on Apple TV+. Those of you looking to the nearer future would be wise to peruse our 2022 release schedule to see which upcoming movies catch your eye.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.