Actor Joaquin Phoenix, portraying Jesus in the upcoming movie “Mary Magdalene,” refused to depict one of the Savior’s miracles because he didn’t particularly care for the way He did it.
Near the beginning of the film, the script called for Phoenix to perform the miracle described in John 9, when Jesus, according to the New Testament account, “spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes,” which ultimately led to his restored vision.
But the 44-year-old actor really didn’t care for Jesus’ methods.
“I knew about that scene from the Bible, but I guess I had never really considered it,” Phoenix told CNN. “When I got there, I thought, ‘I’m not going to rub dirt in her eyes. Who the f*** would do that?’ It doesn’t make any sense. That is a horrible introduction to seeing.”
Instead, the celebrity altered the scriptural account a little, opting instead to lick his thumb before rubbing the blind woman’s eyes (in the Gospel story, it’s a blind man).
Phoenix also offered his interpretation of the story:
That moment is not so much about a real miracle. It’s about someone who has been dismissed by society finally being seen, embraced and encouraged to join the broader community. To me, that is a miracle. There’s something profoundly beautiful about that sentiment.
As for the actor’s personal religion, he isn’t particularly faithful to any belief.
He told The Christian Post last year, when he was working on the movie, that his parents “believed in God,” noting his mother is Jewish, “but she believes in Jesus, she felt a connection to that.”
“But they were never religious. I don’t remember going to church, maybe a couple of times,” he said, adding he doesn’t follow any religion but considers the practice of forgiveness one of his “core values.”
Phoenix’s decision to portray Jesus was an easy one, he explained to The New York Times. He told the newspaper the role was “just instinct, just a gut feeling.”
“I thought, ‘Finally, someone gets me,’” he said.