ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cleopatra and the Actresses who have Played her

Updated on July 1, 2017

Depictions of The Egyptian Queen

Cleopatra has captured the imagination of many artists, musicians, authors and film markers. She is the source of much drama, romance and tragedy that few can resist imagining what she was really like and in doing so they put their own spin on her story and her legend.

This page is dedicated to those actresses who over the years have brought her to life in film.

Theda Bara as Ceopatra
Theda Bara as Ceopatra

Theda Bara

1917

One of the earliest film depiction of Cleopatra was made in 1917 and starred Theda Bara as Cleopatra. It also started Fritz Leiber, Sr as Caesar and Thurston Hall as Mark Antony. It was directed by J. Gordon Edwards.

It was based off a combination of H. Rider Haggard's novel, the plays Cleopatre by Emile Moreau and Victorien Sardou and on William Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra.

At the time this film was made it was the most expensive film to be made. It cost the studio $500,000 (approximately $8.3 million in 2009). This was due to the films opulent sets and costumes. However dues to some of the costumes the Hay Movie Codes deemed the film risque.

The film is partially lost as the last known prints were burnt by a fire that happened at Fox Studios and Museum of Modern Art in New York. However a few fragments of the film survived.

Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra
Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra

Claudette Colbert

1934

The next major film version of Cleopatra was made in 1934 by Cecil B. DeMille. It starred Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra, Warren William as Julius Caesar and Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony. Colbert's Cleopatra uses both her smarts and her sultry methods to get want she needs.

The film has a very Art Deco feel to it, as evident by the costumes and sets. Because the Hay Movie Codes were put into to practice just as this film was coming out, DeMille managed to get away with more provocative costumes. The film was nominated for several academy awards including best picture and it won Best Cinematography

Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra
Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra

Vivien Leigh

1945

The 1945 film directed by Gabriel Pascal based on the 1901 play by George Bernard Shaw. It starred Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra and Claude Rains as Caesar. This is the first colorized film of Cleopatra. Unlike most other versions of Cleopatra, this version is a romantic comedy that wasn't meant to be historically accurate in anyway. Leigh's Cleopatra is girlish and coquettish. This version is the only version to have a coming of age aspect to it.

This version didn't do well at the Box office and ended Gabriel Pascal's career. Although the film did poorly it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.

Leigh's Cleopatra

Sophia Loren as Cleopatra
Sophia Loren as Cleopatra

Sophia Loren

1953

In 1953 Italian movie, "Two Nights with Cleopatra" stared Sophia Loren in a double role. One was Cleopatra and the other was a slave girl named Nisca.

In this comedy version Nisca takes the place of Cleoptra and wooed by a guard who thinks Nisca is Cleopatra. Loren's Cleopatra is seductive which Nisca foils. has a The film is regarded as fun and one of the great versions of Cleopatra.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Elizabeth Taylor

1963

The 1963 version of Cleopatra is very highly regarded and is the most popular version of the Egyptian Queen's life. It stared Elizabeth Taylor is her greatest role as Cleopatra. It also stared Rex Harrison as Caesar and Richard Burton as Marc Antony. Taylor's Cleopatra was sophisticated and cool as well as sultry.

This nearly bankrupted Fox studios as it cost $44 million (in 2010 this would be $320 million). It remains the third most costly movie ever produces. The film for all it's lavishness was not received by critic and it was the affair between Taylor and Burton that helped this movie.

At one point the film held the record for most costume changes for a film. Taylor had 65 costume changes in this movie. This record was broken in the 1968 movie "Star" where Julie Andrews had over 125 costume changes. It also won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume and Best Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound Mixing.

Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra

Leonor Varela as Cleopatra
Leonor Varela as Cleopatra

Leonor Varela

1999

The 1999 TV Mini series is based on the book Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. It stared Leonor Varela as Cleopatra as well as Timothy Dalton as Caesar and Billy Zane as Marc Antony. It was directed by Frank Roddan

Varela's Cleopatra is fiery, ambitious and sometimes very vulnerable. She has great chemistry with Dalton and Zane. Zane and Varela were also engaged for a while after the fell in love of this project. Trevor Jones' score for the version is very well done as well as the sets and costume. Overall it's a very enjoyable telling of Cleopatra.

Leonor Varela's Cleopatra

Leonor Varela's Cleopatra

Monica Bellucci as Cleopatra
Monica Bellucci as Cleopatra

Monica Bellucci

2002

In the 2002 French movie "Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra," Cleopatra is played by Monica Bellucci and the film was directed by Alain Chabat. This movie takes a different approach to the Queen of the Nile. For one this it’s an action/adventure comedy that is fun for all ages. This movie was based on the comic book Asterix et Cleopatre by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo and it was a sequel for the 1999 movie Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar.

The film is about Cleopatra wanting to build a great palace for Caesar and none of her architects will do it. Getafix from Gaul, a druid, goes to Egypt to help his friend who has been made to build the palace. Asterix and Obelix goes with Getafix on his Journey to Egypt. The movie is both funny is an intelligent and modern way though it loses something in translation.

Monica Bellucci's Cleopatra

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

(upcoming?)

Angelina Jolie is rumored to play Cleopatra in an upcoming movie about Cleopatra. So far no word on any other casting or crew of any kind though Ang Lee wants to direct. The only thing that is attached to this project is Jolie.

Jolie playing the Egyptian Queen is very polarizing for people. Stacy Schiff author of "Cleopatra: A Life" thinks she is a great choice. Other people think a Women of color should play her while others think that Jolie does not have the Grecian looks that Cleopatra would have had being of Macedonian decent. And there are other people who feel Jolie is too old for the role, as Cleopatra was 18 when she took the throne and 38 when she died.

Personally, I’m no great fan of Jolie as an actress. I think there is probably a better choice for Cleopatra in myriad of actresses. But I do hope she doesn’t use a fake British accent like in Alexander.

A Poll for the Queen of Egypt

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Who do you think makes the best Cleopatra?

See results

Are You a Fan of Cleopatra Movies?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Kato the slave. 

      4 weeks ago

      The 1963 extravaganza featuring Cleo's triumphal entry to Rome. Though not a victory on the battle field but a spectacle the Roman mob craved. Liz showed em how !

    • profile image

      Limpet. 

      4 weeks ago

      Dame Flora Robson appeared in the 1945 Caesar and Cleopatra with Dame Vivian Leigh as Cleopatra. A youthful Roger Moore debuded as a Centurion.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      4 weeks ago from London England

      A good actress can portray Cleopatra regardless of her nationality or age.

      Flora Robson who often played Queens and even a slave girl acted in both older and younger roles.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      4 weeks ago from London England

      Can't help thinking that the Angelina Jolie photo still on actresses who have portrayed Cleopatra, to me comes across as the classical Grecian Goddess. As i've only seen four actresses portray Cleopatra all aquiting themselves with a regal aura and 'the femme fatale' disposition.

    • profile image

      Kato the slave. 

      4 weeks ago

      Hollywood does not offer justification for their 'far fetched' ideas in production. Just look at all 'bloopers' and factual errors. Regarding Cleopatra though, all seem to reflect in some way the era in which filmed.

    • profile image

      Claborn 

      5 weeks ago

      This woman had a very strong personality! Her character was unusual and the actresses who acted out her roll were also very strong. I heard that every roll leaves the footprint on the human's soul that's why all connect Cleopatra with some mystery. I'm interested to know the actresses who played in https://thecolorpurpleshow.com/ as this character isn't easy too. This young girl is very strong as her life prepared many unexpected surprises

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      7 months ago

      Chilean born Leonor Varala quite convincingly portrayed Cleopatra in the 1999 television film of the same name.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 months ago from London England

      Further to my recent comment on those who have played Cleopatra, Debra Paget did not portray the Egyptian Queen in Serpent of the Nile but rather she was the daughter of Cleopatra albeit worthy of viewing.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 months ago from London England

      Conceivable that any accomplished actress could portray convincingly the role of Cleopatra. This could be regardless of her nationality as we have over the years seen Continental actresses make 'their mark' in Hollywood and Hollywood actors the same as Oriental characters in movies. None the less a regal bearing and an astute intuition would be prime considerations for the role.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      7 months ago from London England

      The alluring Hollywood starlet Debra Paget portrayed a quite convincing Egyptian Queen in a 1950's production titled Serpent of the Nile.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      10 months ago from London England

      Just to avoid any confusion, Anthony and Cleopatra was the play penned by William Shakespeare whilst Caesar and Cleopatra was a work of George Bernard Shaw.

    • profile image

      Limpet 

      10 months ago

      Whilst the myriad of actresses who've appeared as Cleopatra 'Serpent of the Nile' in numerous portrayals. It will be those who starred in major productions who will 'live on' for time immemorial.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      12 months ago from London England

      Heidi Klum and Ann Hathaway have also posed in Cleopatra costumery and and appear quite convincingly as well.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      12 months ago from London England

      Not sure on the Shakespearian conotation there.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      12 months ago from London England

      ERROR; Dame Vivian Leigh appeared in the 1945 production however titled Ceasar and Cleopatra.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      12 months ago from London England

      Renown English actress Sian Phillips convincingly portrayed Cleopatra in the 1976 production of Shakespear's Cleopatra and Marc Antony thus emulating Dame Vivian Leigh's pre3vious portrayal of the same play.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      12 months ago from London England

      There is no doubt that Theda Bara 'fitted the bill' for her role as Cleopatra in one of the earlier versions on the silver screen. I'd go so far as to describe Theda Bara as the ultimate when it comes to the Femme Fatale genre.

    • profile image

      amahsnsnmskjsvs 

      21 months ago

      Cleopatra should have always been played by a black woman. A white Egyptian? Or white ethiopian? What an oxymoron!

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      2 years ago from London England

      Many of the silent movie era filmstock has been destroyed or lost. We can only hope that some of it emerges again.

    • profile image

      SophieMac10 

      3 years ago

      All the great actresses have played an egyptian woman at some point, yet they were all white. It is a slap in the face when you pay to see a biopic and find that a Hispanic woman is being portrayed by a white woman such as in the movie A Beautiful Mind. It's one thing to not be historically accurate in a story line, it is another thing when casting is ignorantly color blind.

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      6 years ago from U.S.A.

      I love Cleopatra movies. How unfortunate that the 1917 version with Theda Bara was destroyed. I would love to see it.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)