“I read like crazy”: Vanessa Kirby Did the Absolute Opposite of Ridley Scott for Napoleon After Her Experience With ‘The Crown’

In contrast to filmmaker Ridley Scott, actress Vanessa Kirby decided to read as many books as she could to prepare for her role in Napoleon (2023).

vanessa kirby did the absolute opposite of ridley scott for napoleon after her experience with ‘the crown’


  • Ridley Scott's 2023 movie Napoleon has come under heavy criticism for a range of historical inaccuracies in the film.
  • While screenwriters' lack of reliance on research was heavily criticized, both Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby were praised for their performances.
  • Kirby revealed that she read innumerable books on Empress Joséphine, and managed to get a sense of her personality via her research.
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While Napoleon (2023) director Ridley Scott may have skipped reading biographies on the historical French emperor’s life, actress Vanessa Kirby ensured she was up to date on her reading and research for the recently released project. The Joaquin Phoenix starrer, which many contemplated would reign as Scott’s magnum opus, stunned audiences and critics after its release.

Vanessa Kirby as Joséphine in Napoleon
Vanessa Kirby as Empress Joséphine in Napoleon

Related: Ridley Scott Admits He Didn’t Read Napoleon’s Real History as Movie Gets Mauled by Historians

With historical inaccuracies being pointed out by several historians, the biopic has become a subject of ridicule after the filmmaker admitted to not having relied on books to research for the film. Instead, the task of going through the reading material was left to the screenwriter.


Contrary to the Gladiator alum, lead actress Vanessa Kirby was able to embody her role in the film by utilizing a strategy that depended heavily on a reading-based research approach. In a recent interview, The Crown star revealed the extent of her dedication to the endeavor.

Vanessa Kirby Read All The Books She Could For Her Napoleon Role

Vanessa Kirby in Napoleon (2023)
Vanessa Kirby in Napoleon (2023)

Kirby, who rose to international prominence with her role in The Crown, is well-acquainted with biographical, fact-based narrative. Some critics praised the actress’ portrayal of Empress Joséphine in Napoleon, hailing her and Joaquin Phoenix’s performances as the epic’s redeeming grace amidst claims of multiple historical inaccuracies and errors. Vanessa Kirby‘s disposition regarding the Scott-helmed project was disclosed in an IndieWire interview, which served as the finest example of her commitment to the role.

Having gone through a similar research process for young Princess Margaret’s portrayal in The Crown, Kirby appreciated how Napoleon‘s structure worked similarly. Considering both productions are based on real-life historical individuals, the actress did not have to “invent the history of a character.” She could instead peruse the research that was made available to the team. The focus could then be placed on understanding the person’s life choices and psychological makeup.

Joaquin Phoenix slapped Vanessa Kirby in Napoleon
Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby in Napoleon

Read also: Joaquin Phoenix Was Unnerved and Terrified By a Pharaoh That Came To Life on the ‘Napoleon’ Set

There was only a slight difference in the material available for the talent to consume during the research process of the two projects. Unlike Princess Margaret, there is no video or audio footage of Empress Joséphine. Therefore, for Ridley Scott‘s film, the Mission: Impossible star chose to rely strictly on books. Following was her statement:

“… There’s no footage, you couldn’t hear her voice like I was really lucky to be able to do with Margaret on The Crown, but it’s just mainly beginning with books, every book you could possibly read. I read like crazy, I read into the night, I read everything I could.”

The actress’s decision to read books and commit to biographical research portrays a picture contrasting the helmer’s approach to the Phoenix-starrer.


Ridley Scott Skipped Reading Books About Napoleon

Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix on the set of Napoleon
Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix on the set of Napoleon

Amidst being panned by historians for his 2023 epic’s factual inaccuracies, Ridley Scott’s statement during an interview with Vulture astonished many online users. Revealing that he left the task of reading biographies on Napoleon to his screenwriter, the director remarked the following:

“There are 10,000 books about Napoleon, and they’re full of both truth and conjecture. But I left reading the books to the poor b*stard who had to write the screenplay.”

Many people were perplexed by this remark, questioning the filmmaker’s need to commit to the biopic if he was unwilling to devote time to skim through the history books.

Scott’s 2023 project has received a 59% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, while the audience score is slightly lower at 58%. Napoleon has been released in theatres and is slated for a release on Apple TV+ post-theatrical run.


Read also: Ridley Scott Bashes Critics For Hitting Out at Napoleon!


Written by Debdipta Bhattacharya

Articles Published: 659

Debdipta Bhattacharya is a content writer at FandomWire, where she has written more than 500 articles on various topics of interest. She possesses a sincere passion for popular culture, anime, film production, and the evolving world of YouTube and streaming culture which has allowed her to be a devoted and well-informed writer. Debdipta holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. She has honed her skills and expertise in content writing with over two years of experience and strives to learn and grow daily.