Darwin Shaw on playing St Peter (and a Lego Bond villain)

The apostle Peter is not the first biblical character that Darwin Shaw has played in his decade or so as an actor. You can see him briefly as Adam, in a new prologue to the Campus Crusade film Jesus (1979) that was shot a few years ago, and you can also see him as the “Semitic Jesus” in Gospel of Thomas (2009), an interactive adaptation of the Gnostic text that allows you to toggle between different actors. (Another actor plays the “Western Jesus”.)

But Peter is easily the biggest role of this sort that Shaw has tackled so far. He appears in all five of the New Testament-themed episodes in last year’s mini-series The Bible, and he will appear again this week in Son of God, the big-screen movie that consists mostly of footage from that mini-series but also includes a few new scenes.

I spoke to Shaw — whose credits also include Casino Royale (2006), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), John Carter (2012) and a deleted scene from Prometheus (2012) — by phone last week while he was in Los Angeles to promote Son of God.

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Star Trek into Darkness — first impressions (spoilers!)

This post has taken a lot longer to write than I expected. I saw Star Trek into Darkness on Wednesday night (the studio, in its wisdom, decided to hold this film back from most critics until the last possible second) and began writing this post on Thursday morning, but life got in the way and I couldn’t finish it all in one sitting — and then, whenever I came back to this post, I found that I had more things to say, or different ways of saying what I had already said, and so on, and so on. But here we are now, on Monday, and the film has finished its first weekend in North America (where it slightly underperformed at the box office), and I am finally going to force myself to finish this thing.

So. Here’s the thing about the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies: He throws so many things at you, so quickly, that you cannot help but miss some details that are actually fairly important, at least on first viewing.

For example, it wasn’t until the second time that I saw his 2009 “reboot” of Star Trek that I realized virtually all of Kirk’s fellow Starfleet cadets had been killed by Nero, except for the ones who were on Kirk’s ship. As you may recall, Starfleet gets a distress call from Vulcan while Kirk is in the middle of being reprimanded by Starfleet authorities — and the disciplinary hearing is put on hold so that all of the recent graduates can board their ships and fly to Vulcan. When all of the ships go to warp speed, the Enterprise accidentally stays behind, because of an error on Sulu’s part — and when the Enterprise finally gets to Vulcan, it finds nothing but a debris field orbiting the planet. Which, when you think about it, means that everyone on all those other ships — including the green alien roommate of Uhura’s that Kirk slept with — is dead, dead, dead. But by that point, the film has forgotten them and moved on to other things; and then, at the film’s conclusion, everyone at Starfleet Academy cheers when Kirk is promoted to captain. Do they make at least a token nod to the fact that they just lost dozens, if not hundreds, of their classmates? Nope.

So, take anything I say in this post with a grain of salt. I have only seen the new film once, and I may have missed all sorts of stuff that won’t register until a second viewing. (One e-pal has already informed me that the movie refers to an incident from the comic-book prequel Countdown to Darkness, but I completely missed that reference as I was watching the film. And I’ve actually read that comic!)

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Oscar nominations — my own two bits

The Academy has spoken, and it looks like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will be the big winner when the final envelopes are opened on February 24.

All the usual indicators point in that direction, at any rate. It has the most nominations. It is one of only two Best Picture nominees whose directors were also nominated for the Directors Guild Award (the other such film being Ang Lee’s Life of Pi). It was nominated for Best Film Editing. And, perhaps just as importantly, it is a box-office hit in a year when the Oscar will probably go to a box-office hit. (More on that in a later post.)

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Is James Bond Catholic? Protestant? Neither? Both?

James Bond is no stranger to religious references and metaphors. The very first novel about his exploits, Casino Royale, devoted an entire chapter to ‘The Nature of Evil’, in which Bond argued that we need an “Evil Book” to complement the “Good Book”, i.e. the Bible. And as anyone who has seen the trailers for Skyfall knows, the most recent movie — released overseas ten days ago, and coming to North America this Friday — includes fleeting references to “resurrection” and “sins”.

As it turns out, the allusions to religion in Skyfall don’t stop there, and, while they may offer little more than handy plot twists or turns of phrase, they actually got me wondering if previous Bond books or films had made any reference to Bond’s religious inclinations or, perhaps, to those of his family. (I have read several of the books, though not all of them, and none of them recently; and I have seen all of the movies, though only some of them within recent memory.)

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