Javier Bardem Miniseries Scrapped at Amazon Due to COVID-19

Javier Bardem attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards - Getty - H 2019
Neilson Barnard/Getty

A big-budget Amazon miniseries starring Javier Bardem has been scuttled due to COVID-19.

Javier Bardem was to have starred in Cortés y Moctezuma, which would have depicted the relationship and conflict between Spanish explorer Hernan Cortés (Bardem) and Aztec ruler Moctezuma II in the 16th century. The project, a co-production between Amazon Studios and Amblin Television, was just getting underway when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The Spanish-language miniseries, written by Steven Zaillian, is based on a feature script by the late Dalton Trumbo. Zaillian, Bardem and Amblin's Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank executive produced along with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.

Tenoch Huerta was cast as Moctezuma, and Yoshira Escarrega was also set to star.

"Due to the production constraints created by the COVID-19 global pandemic, Amazon Studios and Amblin Partners are unable to move forward with production on our Cortés y Moctezuma series," the two companies said in a statement. "In the current climate, there is unfortunately no way to remount the production in the near future to achieve the scale and scope that was intended and that the series deserves. We have nothing but admiration and respect for Javier, Tenoch, Yoshira, Gael, Diego, Steve Zaillian, and the entire cast and crew of the series and hope we can work together again in the future."

Ciro Guerra, who was to have co-directed the miniseries, is also facing allegations of sexual harassment and rape from eight women, as reported by the feminist publication Volcánicas. Guerra has denied the allegations and has sued the publication for defamation. Sources say the allegations were not a major part of the decision to shut down, as financial concerns were the primary factor.

Amazon picked up Cortés y Moctezuma straight to series in 2018. Zaillian was hired by DreamWorks in 2014 to adapt Trumbo's original script, Montezuma, as a feature film. Trumbo wrote the script in the 1960s, a decade after he was blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten, who were shunned because of alleged Communist beliefs.