Jesus with a cleft lip in Mary-Magdalene biopic?

Joaquin Phoenix Will Likely Play Jesus with a .

Hollywood is abuzz with the news that will likely play Jesus, with a cleft lip,  in a new movie about Mary Magdalene—an important woman in Jesus’ life. 

It will reportedly be “an authentic and humanistic portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history.”

 Jesus with a cleft lip will be a first.

Other actors to have famously taken on the role of Jesus in past films include Willem Dafoe (The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988), Ewan McGregor – for the upcoming Last Days in the Desert – and, most controversially, Jim Caviezel in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004).  Joaquin Phoenix would be the first to play Jesus with his microform cleft lip emerging through a likely mustache.


Head shot of Joaquin Phoenix + cleft lip closeup.

If you don’t like the association of  perfect Jesus played by an imperfect actor (or if some other actor ends up with the part), would you settle for Jesus holding a child with a cleft lip? Latino painter John Zamudio from Peru talks about his painting below:


Painting of Jesus holding boy with cleft lip.

Jesus holding boy with cleft lip.

“All painters used to paint only perfect children,. . . For me, perfect lies inside. The name of the painting is ‘You Are My Savior’. Whatever you have, if you are sick, or you are impaired, this is the purpose of our Savior. The boy in the painting is really happy and feels really protected with the Savior.”

J Phoenix in water, smiling with cleft lip affected teeth.

Cleft lip affected teeth? 

All the Hollywood-insider details about the biopic were shared in this Australian news story:

“Producer Liz Watts is joining See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman to produce the biopic Mary Magdalene, as was announced today in a press statement. Set to begin shooting on location in Europe later this year, Watts will produce the film through her Sydney-based production company Porchlight Films.

“It’s a great privilege to be a part of bringing the amazing and timely story of to the big screen,” said Watts in the press statement. “I am thrilled to be working with such an extraordinary cast and director Garth Davis, whose talent and work I’ve admired for years. And, of course, I’m delighted to be working once again with See Saw Films’ Iain and Emile.”

Iain Canning added “We are delighted to be working with Liz on Mary Magdalene. She has the perfect mix of creative sensibility and production experience. Liz’s credits speak for themselves and we look forward to working with her on this unique project.”

Liz Watts’ past credits include Little Fish (2005) starring Cate Blanchett, Tony Krawitz’s Jewboy (2006), Tony Ayres’ The Home Song Stories (2007), David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom (2010), The Hunter (2011) starring Willem Dafoe, Cate Shortland’s Lore (2012) and The Rover (2014) starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. Liz worked with See-Saw on one of the company’s earlier productions, Dead Europe (2012).

Most recently, Watts served as Executive Producer on 8-part TV series The Kettering Incident, and is also executive producing Jasper Jones, the film adaptation of the classic Australian novel by Craig Silvey starring Levi Miller, Angourie Rice, Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving, which will hit cinemas later this year.

Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara (Carol, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is attached to play the title character of Mary Magdalene and Academy Award winner Joaquin Phoenix (Her, Walk the Line) is in talks to play Jesus. Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Martian) is also in talks to play the apostle Peter with French actor Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Past) in talks to play Judas.

Set to be directed by Garth Davis (Top of the Lake, Lion), Mary Magdalene is the portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history. Set in the Holy Land in the first century, the film is the story of a young woman who leaves her small fishing village and family behind to join a new movement. Inspired by its charismatic leader, Jesus of Nazareth, and his teachings, Mary sets out with the disciples on the journey to Jerusalem, where she finds herself at the heart of the founding story of Christianity.

Universal Pictures International Productions (UPIP) is partnering with See-Saw Films to produce the biopic and will release the film in all international territories, except Australia and New Zealand where it will be handled by Transmission Films. The Weinstein Company will release the film in the US in 2017. Film4 co-developed the film with See-Saw.”

  • Wendy Myrhh

    Oh, who cares about his lip? The bigger story is the white-washing debacle.

    • You’re right, Wendy, There’s a bigger story, that’s still being unearthed. Iranian-American religious scholar Reza Aslan recently wrote Zealot:The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Tho not the ultimate authority on Jesus, Aslan says there’s a difference between a personal Christ and the real-life historical figure, Jesus.

      Jesus was a poor Aramaic-speaking Middle-Eastern Jew, not the blonde haired, blue-eyed white guy you see in most Jesus movies.

      Many figures from Christianity, especially early Christianity, were not white, but as Europe became more Christian, the myth of a white Christ started to predominate.

      However, there’s nothing wrong with white people having pictures of Jesus or any other saints/religious figures that look like them.
      In fact, if you look hard enough, you can find religious iconography of Jesus portrayed as almost every nationality.

      • Wendy Myrhh

        Good point! Hopefully fans will focus more on that idiot Rooney Mara white-washing yet another role after the “Pan” debacle, and will keep the “Jesus with a harelip” comments to a minimum.

        I like Joaquin, he is adorable, but he’s not very bright.

        I was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. I was, and still am a real mess. I wish I got off as easy as Phoenix did with his micro cleft, (which he reportedly denies).

        Seth MacFarlane made me hate Family Guy with that one episode – surely, you know the one.

        • As a fellow cleft, am embarrassed to say I don’t know about the Family Guy episode you’re referring to. Pls explain. Tnx.

          • Wendy Myrhh

            On the episode “Three Kings” they parody Stephen King movies. At the end of the Stand By Me parody, they refer to River Phoenix’s death. Richard Dreyfuss, who is doing the voice over for the parody, (just as he did in the original film), (it was really RD – horrible man!) says, “Now, we’re just left with a harelipped reminder of what could have been.” Then they show a picture of Joaquin Phoenix and play goofy, disappointed music in the background.

            Disgusting!! 😞 This actually aired.


          • I think cartoons like the Simpsons and Family Guy get away with double murder often. Real life comedians, single murder.
            Humor gives people license to be rude, crude, and insensitive.
            Humor DOES serve other purposes so let’s not throw the baby out with the bath..

          • Wendy Myrhh

            Not all humor. Just the creepy Seth MacFarlane “brand” of it.