Last Days in the Desert — starring Ewan McGregor as both Jesus and Satan — comes to theatres this Friday, and you can still buy tickets to some of the special “event” screenings that are taking place this Thursday. In the meantime, the distributor has released a few new clips from the film, which you can check out below the jump.
First, here is a clip of Jesus and Satan arguing, via Vanity Fair:
The Austin Film Festival also posted a Q&A with writer-director Rodrigo Garcia which includes two brief clips from the film (Jesus and Satan chat between the 9:32 and 10:02 marks, and Jesus witnesses a clash between the father and his son between the 10:27 and 10:50 marks). Garcia starts talking about the film at the 9:20 mark:
Meanwhile, a few more interview pieces have popped up since the last update.
David Ansen at The Los Angeles Times wrote a profile of Garcia:
[Garcia’s father Gabriel García Márquez] wasn’t just any writer; the author of “A Hundred Years of Solitude” was a literary colossus, as iconic in his field as a Frank Sinatra or a Marlon Brando or a Michael Jordan. At his funeral in April 2014 in Mexico City, attended by the presidents of Colombia and Mexico, tens of thousands of mourners paid tribute.
“There were 10 years of interviews before people stopped asking me about my dad,” García recalls. “But everyone always assumed I didn’t want to talk about him. And then when I did junkets for ‘Albert Nobbs’ nobody asked anymore. And I felt a little sad.” Then, half-jokingly, he adds: “Maybe I made this movie so people would talk about him again.” . . .
In the film the wily Demon, who delights in messing with Jesus’ head, compares God to a storyteller who’s trying to perfect the Earth by constantly writing and rewriting it, willing to start the universe all over just to change the shape of a branch.
“That was my riff on how artists work,” García notes. “They’re just insatiable. The art comes first. God would perfect the universe at the expense of everything else.” It’s Satan’s way of taunting Jesus with the idea that God doesn’t care about him, only with the story he’s been cast in.
It wasn’t until García was halfway through writing his screenplay that the parallels to his own life struck him.
“Both Yeshua and the boy are trying to find their destiny from under a powerful father. I’m not so blind I don’t see that.” But once he saw it, it became emotionally much harder to write: to keep the focus on his tale, not himself. “Writing the second half was exhausting.” Then he adds with a laugh, “but my father was not a silent God.”
McGregor talked to The Daily Beast about the film and concluded by talking about his recent directorial debut, American Pastoral, which leads to this amusing bit:
McGregor’s eyes lit up as he let out a laugh. “I just realized I answered a question wrong the other day. American Pastoral is about a Jewish man called Swede Levov, and somebody asked me, ‘Is that the first Jewish character you’ve ever played?’ I said, ‘I think it is!’”
“But I just realized: I played Jesus.”
McGregor also spoke to The Big Issue about a few of his films, including this one:
You recently played Jesus in Last Days in the Desert. That must have been difficult to get your head around.
It was odd. Approaching that role is an unusual situation but I liked it. I just had to try not to think too much about other people’s ideas or expectations. When you’re playing Jesus Christ – that’s the ultimate in people having pre-conceived ideas on who he is. I tried to focus on playing this man at a particular time in his life. He was trying to communicate with his dad, and it just so happens that his dad was God [laughs].
Meanwhile, co-star Tye Sheridan spoke to Collider.com:
In making a movie like this, did you think about the weight of who these characters actually are, or did you try to stay focused on the humanity of it all?
SHERIDAN: I think you do focus on the humanity and the simplicity of the characters. There’s not a lot of complex dialogue, and everything is very simple, straightforward and on-the-nose, but in a good way. The beats in the story just pop off the page and you understand the conflict. The movie is very easy to follow, but yet, there are underlying themes and messages that some people catch and some people may not. The film is very much a father-son story that is relatable, as well as the ultimate father-son story, if you will.
What was it like to work with these actors?SHERIDAN: I think everybody was in it for the same reason because we all had a lot of passion for the project and we all love Rodrigo [García]. Everyone who worked on the film was top-notch, not only in front of the cameras, but behind the cameras. The heads of the departments were all very talented. And it was a small set. It was nice, just getting to know everyone. You had the opportunity to sit down next to Rodrigo or Ewan, and just ask them questions and learn from them. There was so much openness in the collaboration on the set.
Elsewhere, the Faith Forward blog here at Patheos interviewed Erik Lokkesmoe, who is one of the film’s executive producers; and The New York Times used Last Days in the Desert as the hook for a story about recent films that have used scripture as a “springboard” (the Times spoke to Garcia and McGregor, and also to Risen producer Mickey Liddell and The Young Messiah writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh).
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Lubezki has posted another photo from the film’s set:
Check out earlier trailers and other videos here: