When news first came that The Nativity Story would star 16- year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes as the Virgin Mary — almost certainly the youngest actress ever to play the part — I was intrigued. For years, I have heard pastors and priests talk about how the historical Mary was probably in her early to mid teens — a fact that has not been acknowledged by any previous narrative film of which I am aware — so I figured church types would respond with some enthusiasm to this bit of casting. It would make the film more “authentic”.
But then, a second thought occurred to me. What if a positive and even romanticized depiction of a pregnant teenager got other teenaged girls interested in becoming pregnant? Granted, a few prominent Christians have actually spoken in favour of such a thing, within the bounds of marriage of course — see Frederica Mathewes-Green‘s essay ‘Let’s Have More Teen Pregnancy‘ in particular (and then, in a similar vein, hear or read Frank Schaeffer‘s ‘Young Lovers, In It for the Long Haul’) — but theirs is a minority position, and I imagine most adults might not care for this particular possible unintended consequence of the film.
Now, just to add fuel to this hitherto almost imperceptible fire, People magazine reveals that Castle-Hughes herself is expecting a child, fathered by her 19-year-old boyfriend of three years. The baby is due in the spring, and so was probably conceived during the summer, during or shortly after the production of The Nativity Story. So now it’s not only the character that may have an influence on some viewers, but the actress playing her.
If this film has a press junket — and a junket aimed specifically at the religious press, at that — it could get very interesting!
(Hat tip to Jeffrey Overstreet at the Looking Closer Journal.)