Director Jim Sheridan eyes "I, Claudius"

Irish film director Jim Sheridan is shown in an undated file image. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan will direct an adaptation of the classic novel “I, Claudius,” which is best known as the basis for the 1976 BBC miniseries that starred Derek Jacobi as the stuttering Roman emperor.

Robert Graves’ 1934 novel recounts the internecine plots and counterplots surrounding Claudius, who ruled from 41-54 A.D. Born into a murderous, imperial family, he used his cunning mind and rivals’ misjudgement to not only survive but eventually become one of Rome’s greatest emperors.

It went on to be adapted into a 1937 film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Charles Laughton.

Sheridan will write the screenplay with longtime collaborator Nye Heron. It will be produced by indie financier Relativity Media.

The tale of Claudius has long intrigued Hollywood, and rights to the book were won last year in a heated bidding war by producer Scott Rudin, with Leonardo DiCaprio and “The Departed” writer William Monahan attached. That deal ultimately fell through.

Sheridan, known for dramas such as “In America” and “My Left Foot,” worked with Relativity on his latest movie, the upcoming “Brothers” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter