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'Nativity' gets its lead

Another upcoming film guaranteed to bring God-talk into the open spaces is New Line Cinema’s Nativity, which cast Keisha Castle-Hughes (of Whale Rider fame) as Mary. Yes, that Mary. The film, which some tout as the “prequel to The Passion,” follows Mary and Joseph’s life before the birth of Jesus. A Jan. 24 article quotes script’s author Mike Rich (whose credits also include Finding Forrester, Radio and The Rookie) as saying, “Everyone knows the basic outline, but it's also such a timeless story of faith and hope." The article also reveals:

Rich told Daily Variety the script covers the two-year period of Mary and Joseph's life, culminating in their leaving Nazareth and journeying 100 miles to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. Story's aimed at fleshing out key characters such as King Herod; John the Baptist's parents, Zachariah and Elizabeth; the shepherds who were witness to Jesus' birth; and the arrival of the three kings from the Orient.

The inspiration for penning a script came to Rich in late 2004 when he read simultaneous cover stories about the Nativity in Time and Newsweek.

"It seemed to me that although this was a challenging story, it was also really compelling," he added.

Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dog Town, Thirteen) is directing. The film is to begin filming in May in Morocco and Italy and is slated for a December 1 release.

(Image: Indigo Goat)