With Mel Gibson having only slightly fallen in the ranks of public perception since his $600 million-grossing “Passion of the Christ,” it's only natural that when stirrings of a quasi-prequel to the Jim Caviezel-starring film began this year at Cannes — who else — but the director of 3D cave thriller “Sanctum” would be the one to helm it. Alister Grierson signed on early to direct “Mary Mother of Christ,” but only lately have any new casting hints begun to trickle out, and they're a reliably fitting bunch to boot.
Centered around Mary's ardent efforts to save her son by defying King Herod, the film has reportedly interested Sir Ben Kingsley for the lead royal role. Kingsley already has quite the high-profile slate lined up, with Gavin Hood's “Ender's Game” and “Iron Man 3” all being released next year, but more peculiar in this case is his apparent co-star in the prequel, one Peter O'Toole. The legendary actor recently announced his retirement from a 50-year acting career in July, but apparently for Grierson's project, he'll be reporting for duty as Symeon nonetheless. Whether that casting proves accurate remains to be seen, but it's a definite selling point for a film already ripe with many.
The rest of the cast is rumored to include Odeya Rush as Mary, Julia Ormond, Dame Judi Dench as Anna the Prophetess, and Hugh Bonneville as Satan if producers get who they want. The reason for the prequel tag comes in the form of writer Benedict Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the 'Passion' script with Gibson and now is teaming with Barbara Nicolosi for 'Mary.'
Whether the project mirrors the success of 'Passion' remains to be seen, but if the filmmakers can actually pull this cast together, it definitely has a chance of doing so. [The Wrap]