Anthony Hopkins Mary

Anthony Hopkins plays the fearful King Herod the Great and newcomer Noa Cohen plays the Virgin Mary — the young mother of Jesus Christ — in Mary, a new origin story described as a ticking-clock “biblical survival thriller” created with feedback from religious leaders around the world.

Photography has wrapped in Morocco, and the film is now in post-production. UTA, which represents Hopkins, a two-time Best Actor Oscar winner for The Silence of the Lambs and The Father, describes it as “a coming-of-age film about a young girl who changed the world forever.”

“Propelled into circumstances far beyond her control, Mary is shunned following the otherworldly conception of her child and forced into hiding. King Herod’s relentless drive to maintain power at any cost ignites the murderous pursuit of the newborn child that he believes is a threat to his reign on the throne. In a breathless ticking-clock pursuit, the film takes us on a journey as young Mary and Joseph are on the run, smuggling their baby, Jesus,” goes the description.

Anthony Hopkins on Playing Herod in Mary

Added Hopkins in a statement: “At this time of my life, I’m drawn to the challenge of complex scripts. As well, the level of the detail given to this production — with extraordinary sets, props and costumes —makes me proud to be a part of this.”

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His version of Herod is a desperate king who will do anything to keep his crown, including killing his wife and sons, as well as countless innocents.

“Hopkins was primed to play King Herod the Great,” producer Mary Aloe says. “He embodied this historical figure of a King who was steeped in mental illness and greed with such great ferocity.”

Joel Osteen and Other Religious Leaders’ Involvement in Mary

The film has the promotional backing of Pastor Joel Osteen, who reaches millions of homes a week through his weekly broadcast, the JOEL Channel on Sirius Radio, podcasts, and other platforms. “What drew me to this project was how the script represents a real breakthrough in the telling of Mary’s story. It draws the audience into her incredible journey in becoming one of the most influential women in all of history,” he said in a statement.

Noa Cohen, who was born and raised in Israel only an hour away from where Mary was born, was cast after a worldwide search. One of Israel’s fastest rising stars, she is best known for the Israeli series My Nephew Bentz, and the 2022 feature film, Silent Game, as well as her top-rated talk show.

The film will cover Mary’s life “from pre-birth to birth, age 10 and 15 – 16 years old,” according to the film’s description.

Director DJ Caruso (I Am Number Four, Eagle Eye) hopes the film will “give the world a portrayal of the real human Mary. Her story has a lesser-known beginning; it is profoundly worthy of being told. Portraying her from birth through childhood and presenting her as a human being with apprehensions and fears will be a celebration of everything inspiring and gut-wrenching about her journey.”

The film is produced by Aloe, the founder of Aloe Entertainment (BruisedWorth) and Hannah Leader (Gosford Park, and Freud’s Last Session, in which Hopkins also stars). Producing alongside include financiers Gillian Hormel (Bruised) of Ludascripts and Joshua Harris of PeachTree Media Partners (Not Without Hope).

The fim was written by Timothy Michael Hayes (Armistice) after the team conferred with priests, bishops, Baptist pastors, rabbis, the Church of Latter Day Saints and Muslims, along with biblical scholars and theologians.

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UTA Independent Film Group and CAA Media Finance jointly represent the film’s North American rights. West End Films is representing foreign sales. 

The film also stars Mila Harris (Young Mary), Ido Tako (Joseph), Stephanie Nur (Salome), Susan Brown, (Anna the Prophetess), Ori Pfeffer as (Joachim), Hilla Vidor (Anne), Gudmundur Thorvaldsson (Marcellus) and Dudley O’Shaughnessy, Eamon Farren, Mili Avital, Milo Djurovic, Charley Boon, Kelsie Lewis and Jade Croot.

Its production team includes recent Oscar-nominated hair and makeup artist, Karen Hartley Thomas (Golda), production designer James Merifield (Mary Queen of Scots), costume designer Tina Kalivas (The Man Who Fell to Earth), and director of photography Gavin Struthers (The Witcher). Adam Schindler seerved as the the team’s biblical scholar. Casting was provided by Chamutal Zerem Casting in Tel Aviv and Finnian Tweed Casting in London, and production services were provided in Morocco by Valkyries Productions. 

Other investors include Roger Dorman, Angie Staten, Amory Leader, Tidbits, Media Finance Capital, LONY Productions, FitzHenry Films, Prime Focus Studios, Creativity Media, Doonan, Baldwin and Crown House Films.

Hopkins is represented by UTA, along with Mitch Smelkinson of Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher. DJ Caruso is represented by CAA, Media Talent Group, and Brecheen Feldman Breimer Silver & Thompson, LLP. Noa Cohen is repped by Bold Israel in Tel Aviv. Mila Harris is represented by Paradigm  and Complete Management. Stephanie Nur is represented by Innovative Artists and Bohemia Group.

Main image photo credits: Noa Cohen by Tal Abudi; Anthony Hopkins by  Martin Schoeller; courtesy of UTA.