EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott wants to direct a feature biopic about Gertrude Bell, and he has set The Constant Gardener scribe Jeffrey Caine to write the script. Scott will produce with Giannina Facio for Scott Free under the production shingle’s deal at Fox. Born to privilege in England, the Oxford-educated Bell found her calling in the desert while visiting her diplomat uncle in Persia. She became a seminal figure in Middle East politics during the run-up to WWI, acting in roles that ranged from archaeologist to diplomat, photographer and spy. While she helped sort out the borders of Iraq after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, she lost favor with her government for strongly advocating Arab self-rule. The Brits preferred direct access to the oil fields.
Scott and Facio see a strong opportunity for an actress to play the complicated heroine Bell, who thrived during a tumultuous period memorably captured in Lawrence of Arabia. Scott is currently directing the science fiction film Prometheus for Fox.
Scott and Facio are separately developing Gucci, another film he wants to direct that chronicles murder and decadence in the fashion family dynasty. That project is at Fox 2000 and focuses on the volatile relationship between Maurizio Gucci and ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani. She drew a 26-year sentence for plotting his 1995 murder.