Lately, Werner Herzog has kept busy making documentaries like Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, Into The Abyss, and his recent (and surprisingly effective) PSA about texting and driving, but we’re approaching five years since his last narrative films: 2009’s one-two punch of The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call—New Orleans and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.
Herzog is finally back at work on a fiction project: Queen Of The Desert, a biopic about the life of British writer, spy, and cartographer Gertrude Bell, though it’s not scheduled to arrive in theaters for at least a year. Wikipedia (which is never wrong) says Bell “played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq, utilizing her unique perspective from her travels and relations with tribal leaders throughout the Middle East.” She sounds like a real trailblazer and explorer, which of course puts her perfectly in line with other historical pioneers who became Herzog protagonists, like Lope de Aguirre and Carlos Fitzcarrald.
Deadline reports Herzog will direct Nicole Kidman in the lead role of Bell, with Homeland’s Damian Lewis as Lt. Col. Charles Doughty Wylie, “an unhappily married English war hero who engages in a turbulent affair” with her. Then they reveal what ultimately happened to Wylie after the relationship, so proceed to that link at your own history-spoiling peril.
Bell definitely has the Herzog-hero vibe, but I wouldn’t necessarily think of Kidman as a stereotypical Herzogian actor like Klaus Kinski, Nicolas Cage, or Michael Shannon, prone to wild flights of bug-eyed rage and mania. Then again, Kidman was pretty entertainingly crazy in The Paperboy, and in general seems to be having a bit of a career resurgence in recent years, including a very strong turn in Park Chan-wook’s Stoker. So it’s an unexpected combination of director and actor, but also an intriguing one.