Actor Joaquin Phoenix is the latest Hollywood star slated to play Jesus Christ on the big screen, a role he will take on in the upcoming biopic “Mary Magdalene.”
News of the film, which is being directed by Garth Davis and is set for release worldwide in 2017, spread this week after Phoenix and actress Rooney Mara, who plays Mary, were photographed filming in rural Italy, with the Daily Mail describing Phoenix as sporting a “wild beard and long hair.”
Our first (unofficial) pictures of #JoaquinPhoenix as #Jesus and #RooneyMara as #MaryMagdalene: https://t.co/l6wzibghGk
— Peter T Chattaway (@ptchat) November 23, 2016
Photos of the actor filming scenes for the movie back up this description, and show Phoenix — who is in character as Jesus — bloodied and injured, while wearing a white sheet around his waist as he hangs on the cross.
The crucifixion scene is reportedly set to include a crowd observing the entire spectacle, with a Roman soldier stabbing Jesus in the side — indications that the film will, at least in part, follow the biblical narrative, though larger narratives and details surrounding the plot line are not yet known.
The film will reportedly also depict Jesus’ burial and resurrection. According to the Daily Mail, the focus will be on offering viewers “an authentic portrait of Mary,” and the bond she had with Christ.
Back in February, Deadline reported that the goal was to create a “humanistic portrait” of Mary, with the outlet describing her as “one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history.”
This is hardly the first time Mary Magdalene has been portrayed by Hollywood, as she was depicted in the films “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “The Passion of the Christ,” among others, as well as in the 1970s TV show “Jesus of Nazareth,” as Deadline reported.
Phoenix’s involvement in the film began circulating as early as April, with Variety reporting at the time that he was under consideration to play the role of Jesus.
Primeras imágenes de Rooney Mara (María Magdalena) y Joaquin Phoenix (Jesús) en el biopic 'Mary Magdalene' de Garth Davis pic.twitter.com/0fwIprgPOj
— Trailers y Estrenos (@TrailersyEstren) November 22, 2016
Again, not much is known about the plot, though movie blogger Peter Chattaway asked some intriguing questions in a blog post published back in August. He wondered whether Mary would be shown in the film as the only woman to join the disciples on their way to Jerusalem, especially considering the contents of the text in Luke 8:1-3, which reads:
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
He also wondered whether Mary’s aforementioned exorcism would be depicted, and concluded with a third and truly intriguing question: “When the press release says Mary leaves her ‘family’ behind, is it talking about her parents and siblings or her husband and children?”
Since the men left their kids and wives to follow Jesus, Chattaway wondered why the same wouldn’t be true of females as well.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what “Mary Magdalene” has in store for audiences.
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