Joaquin Phoenix in Talks to Play Jesus in ‘Mary Magdalene’ Pic with Rooney Mara

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The upcoming “Mary Magdalene” film is shaping up to be quite the prestige pic. Deadline is reporting that three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in negotiations to play Jesus Christ in the film. The outlet reports that the deal is still being worked out.

The film first made waves when it was announced that See-Saw, the producers behind “The King’s Speech,” were bringing the tale of Mary Magdalene to the big screen. None other than the enigmatic Rooney Mara is set to play the leading role of Mary Magdalene, the captivating and oft-controversial follower of Jesus, who is believed to have been present at his crucifixion and resurrection.

The film, which will be directed by Garth Davis (known for the television series “Top of the Lake”), is being handled internationally by Universal (except in Australia and New Zealand where it will be handled by Transmission Films) and domestically by the Weinstein Co. The script is penned by British playwright Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett (“Little Ashes”).

Mara captivated audiences this year in her turn as Therese Belivet in “Carol” opposite fellow nominee Cate Blanchett. She also received praise for her role in “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in 2011. She has many upcoming projects, including an unnamed Terrence Malick project due out this year.

Phoenix was seen last in 2015’s “Irrational Man.” His next film, “Far Bright Star,” is currently in pre-production as well.

This is not the first time the Mary Magdalene character has been portrayed on screen. In Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” Barbara Hershey plays the famous figure. And in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” Monica Bellucci also played her. She is also at the center of a fictional cover-up by the Catholic Church in the Dan Brown book “The DaVinci Code,” which was later turned into a film of the same name starring Tom Hanks.

Over time Mary Magdalene has been seen as a prostitute, however, this is not supported in canonical gospels.

The film is slated to begin filming this summer with an anticipated release in 2017.