Newsbites: Mary Magdalene! Edgardo Mortara! Biblically!

Newsbites: Mary Magdalene! Edgardo Mortara! Biblically! September 16, 2016


Just a few quick recent news items with a religious hook.

1. The Toronto Star spoke to Rooney Mara, who is currently promoting three films at the Toronto International Film Festival (Una, Lion and The Secret Scripture), and along the way it mentions that Mary Magdalene starts shooting next week. Mara, who grew up Catholic but isn’t religious, was reportedly reluctant to star in the film at first, but she says she found the script “revelatory” and “very different from what I grew up learning about her.” Hopefully this means Mary won’t be a prostitute this time.

2. Five months ago, I mentioned that Steven Spielberg was planning on making The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, a film about a pivotal clash between Jews and Catholics in 19th-century Italy. Now comes word that Harvey Weinstein is planning to produce his own movie about that story, which might be directed by Baltasar Kormákur (Everest). Spielberg’s film will star Mark Rylance as Pope Pius IX, while the Weinstein/Kormákur film may star Robert De Niro in that role. The two movies might not be entirely redundant, though; The Hollywood Reporter says the two projects “likely will focus on different years in Mortara’s life.” As ever, we shall see.

3. Deadline reports that CBS has bought a comedy series based on A.J. Jacobs’ book The Year of Living Biblically. The series is being produced by Johnny Galecki (an actor on The Big Bang Theory) and written by Patrick Walsh (2 Broke Girls).

September 19 update: A bonus quote from SBS TV in Australia, in which Rooney Mara talks about reteaming with director Garth Davis after working with him on Lion: “I just really loved the idea of returning to work with Garth,” Mara says. “He’s a very special human being. He’s very tapped into the earth and he’s great at connecting lots of different types of people – as you can see with the casting of Mary Magdalene.”

September 24 update: Another bonus quote, this time from Screen Daily:

As the well-received Lion gets its European premiere at Zurich Film Festival this week, the actress is currently preparing to star in prestige biopic Mary Magdalene opposite Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” admits the New York native. “But I’m happy to have something to throw myself into it. I find it more of a challenge if it’s not something I can immerse myself in. I like that kind of work.” . . .

“I’m heading to Sicily to shoot Mary Magdalene. I don’t feel like I’m going to be part of the awards this year, thankfully. It’s a daunting, exhausting time.”

— The photo above shows Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in Pan (2015).

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