Joaquin Phoenix is following in the footsteps of Willem Dafoe, Jim Caviezel, Robert Powell, and more by tackling the role of Jesus in Garth Davis’ upcoming Biblical epic “Mary Magdalene.” The actor stars opposite Rooney Mara in the title role, as well as Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter and Tahar Rahim as Judas.
Phoenix was cast as Jesus Christ in April 2016. Davis shot the film in the fall of 2016. The movie reunites Phoenix with Mara for the first time since the two starred in Spike Jonze’s “Her.”
Phoenix was last seen on the big screen in Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man.” He won the Best Actor prize at Cannes earlier this year for Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here.”
“Mary Magdalene” is the first collaboration between Phoenix and director Garth Davis. Davis is best known as the co-director of “Top of the Lake” and the filmmaker behind “Lion,” which co-starred Rooney Mara.
“Mary Magdalene” marks a reunion between Davis and cinematographer Greig Fraser, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography for his work on “Lion.”
A majority of “Mary Magdalene” was shot in rural Italy, which has become Hollywood’s go-to destination for religious period epics. Paramount and MGM’s “Ben Hur” remake also shot there.
“Mary Magdalene” focuses on the relationship between Jesus and the title character, who is ostracized by Jesus’ male disciples.
The film was originally set for release in November 2017 but was bumped by The Weinstein Company to March 2018 in order to coincide with Easter. The movie is being distributed by Universal internationally in March 2018.
Mara and Phoenix played a divorced couple in Spike Jonze’s “Her,” which means “Mary Magdalene” will give them a different dynamic to play with.
The movie will depict the crucifixion of Jesus. Films such as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” have received backlash for depicting the crucifixion in all its graphic details.