Scorsese Returns to TV with HBO’s ‘Cortes’, Benicio Del Toro Could Star

By November 18, 2014

Martin Scorsese’s first major TV directing gig was for “Boardwalk Empire,” the HBO drama that won him an Emmy. That show is now over and the director has a new pilot in the works with Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, but Deadline reports that The Wolf of Wall Street helmer is already looking ahead to a new project after that one that would also air on HBO. Mississippi Burning writer Chris Gerolmo is writing and executive producing a new show called “Cortes,” which Scorsese will executive produce and direct (at least the pilot, and possibly more episodes down the line). Benicio Del Toro is also exec producing, and the actor has interest in starring as the famed conquistador in the new show.

Cortes will tell the sweeping 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.

Sounds like another huge and potentially terrific production for HBO, who has been absolutely slaying it in recent years, putting out one great show after another.

Interestingly, Scorsese’s buddy Steven Spielberg was recently developing a movie about Cortes, so I wonder how he feels about being beaten to the punch with this story. Spielberg’s film would have finally brought the story to fruition on the big screen after spending decades in development (that script was originally written by Dalton Trumbo for Kirk Douglas to star in it), and Javier Bardem was being eyed to play the role of Cortes in the movie.

We’ll have to see how this shakes out, but I’d imagine that a high profile HBO series helmed by Scorsese would put an end to any of Spielberg’s plans to bring this story to theaters, especially when he already has his next two films lined up.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.