Now in development, the eight-part series is being produced by the well-established British company Ecosse Films (“Hampstead,” “Mistresses”) and Pascal Breton’s Paris-based Federation Entertainment (“The Bureau,” “Marseille”) for the network France Televisions, which is also co-producing.
The show is based Andrew Roberts’ “Napoleon: A Life” and Kate Williams’ “The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte.” It will be directed by a French and English filmmaker duo who will be announced at a later stage, along with a French writer who will be working with Saint.
Bejo, who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” and won best actress at Cannes for Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past,” will play Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife, lover, and muse.
Josephine de Beauharnais, a mischievous aristocrat born in the French West Indies, was 35 when she met Bonaparte, a quick-tempered and ambitious 25-year-old general from Corsica, during the French Revolution. Together they became a powerful couple.
“Josephine and Napoleon” will explore how these “two colonial outsiders from the French islands achieved the most audacious and extraordinary ascent to power in human history,” the production companies said in a statement, adding that the series will showcase a “rich cast of Machiavellian fixers, déclassé aristocrats, and scheming lovers thrown into the mix.”
Takis Candilis, managing director of content at France Télévisions, said “Josephine and Napoleon” was a rare project that “reveals historical figures with such accuracy and wit,” as well as a “modern approach.”
Candilis added that “Josephine was a free, strong and influential woman, remarkable in her day, incredibly relevant for our time.”
“Bringing these remarkable characters to life has already been a joy, but I am absolutely delighted that Berenice Bejo is joining the project. She will be an unforgettable Josephine,” said Saint, who is also executive producing the show. His credits include “Das Boot,” “Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley,” and “Strike Back.”
Douglas Rae at Ecosse Films said “Josephine’s role in Napoleon’s destiny will surprise and thrill audiences across the world.” Rae is producing the series with Kate Triggs and Robert Bernstein at Ecosse Films, and Breton and Lionel Uzan at Federation Entertainment.
Breton said Federation Entertainment looked forward to working with France Televisions and Ecosse Films to “serialize two of France’s greatest historical figures: Josephine and Napoleon.” He added that having “Berenice Bejo to embody Joséphine makes the project even more exciting.”
The show is scheduled to start shooting at the end of next summer in France.