It’s one of the odder quirks of TV production in the COVID-19 era that a show no longer needs to exist in order to be canceled. Thanks to the industry-wide delays (and increasingly stringent hassles for those productions that do try to move forward), projects that once seemed like reasonably sure bets can quickly become far too costly or time-consuming to manage, leading to a series being canceled before a single frame has even been shot. Such is the fate of Javier Bardem’s formerly-new, now-discarded miniseries Cortés y Moctezuma, which was abandoned by Amazon earlier today.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the series would have seen Bardem star as Spanish explorer/historical villain Hernan Cortés, opposite Tenoch Huerta as Aztec leader Moctezuma. Reportedly set to be a lavish look at 16th century America, the series was just starting production when COVID-19 hit, abruptly halting filming. Amazon and Amblin Television issued a joint statement this afternoon, making it clear that, while they have “nothing but admiration and respect” for Bardem and the rest of the show’s cast and crew, “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.”
The series was initially green-lit by Amazon back in 2018. Its script is adapted from one written by Hollywood legend Dalton Trumbo, with writer Stephen Zallian working to adapt Trumbo’s Montezuma into a miniseries format. Yoshira Escarrega was also set to star