Has there ever been a big-screen movie about the apostle Paul? There have been many TV productions about him, and he has been a supporting character in films like Quo Vadis and The Last Temptation of Christ — he even had a cameo, sort of, in last year’s Hail, Caesar! — but I don’t believe there has ever been a major feature film about him before, at least not one that was produced in English.
That could change next year when Affirm Films — the “faith-based” branch of Sony Pictures that released Risen last year — releases Paul, Apostle of Christ, a brand new film that has just started principal photography. From today’s press release:
Paul, who goes from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to Christ’s most influential apostle, spends his last days awaiting execution by Emperor Nero in Rome. Paul is under the watchful eye of Mauritius, Mamertine Prison’s ambitious prefect, who seeks to understand how this broken old man can pose such a threat. As Paul’s days grow shorter, he feverishly works from prison to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and embolden his followers to stand strong in their faith against Roman persecution far greater than has ever been seen.
Paul is being played by James Faulkner, who has had small roles in two earlier Bible films, including one about Paul! In 1981’s Peter and Paul, which starred Anthony Hopkins as Paul, Faulkner played someone called Menahem; years later, he also played Marcellus in the 2010 version of Ben-Hur. Faulkner also played a biblical character in a non-biblical project, when he played Herod Agrippa in the 1976 miniseries I, Claudius.
Three other actors with Bible-movie experience have been cast in Paul, Apostle of Christ — and interestingly, it is they, not Faulkner’s Paul, who appear in the only image released from the film so far (part of which is above; the full picture is below):
- Luke is played by Jim Caviezel, who, of course, famously played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ (2004);
- Priscilla is played by Joanne Whalley, who played Pilate’s wife Claudia in A.D. The Bible Continues and Noah’s wife Emmie in The Ark (both 2015); and
- Aquila is played by John Lynch, who played Sagan in The Passion (2008), Gabriel in The Nativity (2010) and Nicodemus in Killing Jesus (2015).
The Roman prefect Mauritius, meanwhile, is being played by Olivier Martinez, who has no Bible-movie experience that I know of.
The film is written and directed by Andrew Hyatt, who previously directed Full of Grace, a 2015 film set during the last days of the Virgin Mary’s life.
The film is currently being shot on the island of Malta — which is not only where previous biblical movies like Risen have been filmed, but is also the island where Paul and Luke lived for three months after surviving a shipwreck (as per Acts 28).
Two and a half years ago, it was announced that Hugh Jackman was developing a film about Paul, though I haven’t heard any news about that project since.
Here is the first official photo from Paul, Apostle of Christ: