EXCLUSIVE: As Darren Aronofsky’s Noah gets ready to set sail and iconic directors Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg forge ahead with epics about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, faithful Biblical epics are flourishing in Hollywood. It looks like there is even room for one that takes the most controversial look at the life of Jesus Christ since Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ.
I’m told that Muse Productions’ Chris Hanley, whose credits include American Psycho, has stepped up to finance development of a film about Christ. It will be based on Jesus Of Nazareth, a book that director Paul Verhoeven co-wrote after immersing himself in the history and researching the subject for nearly two decades. Verhoeven plans to direct the film, which will be written by Roger Avary. Avary shared the Academy Award for Best Original Script with Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction.
Verhoeven’s take on the life of Jesus Christ discounts all the miracles that inform the New Testament. That includes the virgin birth and the resurrection. Verhoeven doesn’t believe any of them happened. I wrote about Verhoeven’s ambitions in spring 2011, as he and his reps at ICM first tried to find funding — no small feat given some of the theories he put forth in the book.The most controversial: that Jesus might have been the product of his mother being raped by a Roman soldier, which Verhoeven said was commonplace at the time, and that Jesus was a radical prophet who performed exorcisms and was convinced he would find the kingdom of Heaven on earth, and did not know he would be sentenced to die on the cross by Pontius Pilate. That, and the discounting of the miracles that pepper the New Testament, has made this a daunting project to set up. (more…)