HBO’s successful track record for period dramas looks set to continue if this latest piece of industry chatter comes to fruition. This time, they are taking a step into the history of Latin America. As of today, the premium cable network are setting the wheels in motion for a drama series inspired by the life of the Spanish conquistador, Cortes.
While still in the early stages of development, the show has already acquired a slew of big hitters. Martin Scorsese is attached to direct, Mississippi Burning writer Chris Gerolmo is poised at the keys to pen the episodes, and Benicio Del Toro is reportedly keen to tackle the leading role. All three will executive produce along with Laura Bickford, Rick Yorn and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.
According to Deadline, who nabbed the exclusive, Cortes “will tell the story of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who brought down the Aztec empire; Malinche, the Mayan girl who helped him do it; and Montezuma, the Aztec leader he befriended and finally put in chains… [the show] has the makings of a compelling drama as Cortés’ legacy is a complex one. On one hand, he won Mexico for Spain and extended the Spanish Empire. But from the indigenous’ point of view, he was a mass murderer who spearheaded the destruction of one of the greatest civilizations of that time.”
Should he finalize a deal, the role of Cortes will be Del Toro’s third stab at portraying a famous figure from history. The Spanish conquerer will round out the trio following his turn as Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s two-parter, Che, and infamous drug baron Pablo Escobar in Escobar: Paradise Lost. He’s clearly got a penchant for carrying the weight of real-life personas, and delivering them to big-name directors. We’ll have to wait and see what type of performance Scorsese will prise from him when Cortes enters production.