My vision of Jesus Christ, by Mel Gibson

From Richard Owen in Rome
The Times (England), Aug. 3, 2002,,1-3-373084,00.html

MEL GIBSON, best known for his action roles in films such as Braveheart, Lethal Weapon and Mad Max, is considering casting himself as Jesus in a film about the last days of Christ which he is to direct in southern Italy.

The star, a high-profile Catholic who has recently spoken out on church issues, has been scouting locations this week in and around Matera, in southern Italy, for his film, to be called Passion.

Avvenire, the Catholic daily newspaper, said that Gibson had consulted theologians and Catholic Church officials “at the highest level” to gain an insight into Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, including the Last Supper and the vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Gibson, 46, has outspoken views on paedophile priests which are unlikely to endear him to the Vatican. In a recent interview about his latest film, Signs, in which he plays an Episcopalian priest, he said that the scandal over sexual abuse that had rocked the Church in the United States should be resolved by “punishing hard those guys who have misused their authority”.

Members of the production team accompanying Gibson at Matera said he was being reticent about whether he would play Jesus himself, and was aware of the magnitude and sensitivity of the role. But he was preparing himself for what would be the greatest challenge of his career.

Shooting is due to start next month. Film critics said the actor, once known for his drinking and womanising, was returning to his roots in his middle age and was rediscovering the faith he was taught at a boys’ school in Sydney.

Whether the Vatican will approve of Passion is another matter. The Pope has a private cinema and the Vatican has released a list of films that he approves of because of their spiritual or moral values.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 5, 2002.
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