Jesus with a cleft lip in Mary-Magdalene biopic?

Joaquin Phoenix Will Likely Play Jesus with a cleft lip.

Hollywood is abuzz with the news that Joaquin Phoenix 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 Mary Magdalene 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.”

To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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