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Casting Call: Mary Magdalene

When Jake Gyllenhaal grows his beard and hair long, he's the spitting image of Jesus Christ in the Western Christian tradition (although we know that the historical Jesus was born in what is now Israel, and would most likely have looked much different). The actor is the perfect age to play Christ at the end of his life, and it would be interesting to see Gyllenhaal bring his experience portraying dark and morally complex characters to the Christ figure. 

Judas Iscariot is the most infamous of Christ's disciples, revealing Jesus's identity to his executioners for 30 silver coins. Rami Malek rose to prominence for his role in the surprise hit USA show Mr. Robot last year, and his character's wild, expressive eyes and his sinister aloofness would translate well to portraying the man who betrayed Jesus.

Mary Magdalene is introduced in the Gospel of Luke as "Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out." After her apparent exorcism, she would become a devoted follower of Jesus, but the overall narrative around Magdalene's biography is that she led a life of sin before being reformed. Rooney Mara can embody the mystery and duality of this character, remembering her anarchist edge in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and her naïve innocence in Carol.

We see Jennifer Jason Leigh taking on the role of Mary's mother. Although her hard talking, gun-slinging Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight is far from maternal, the role won the Fast Times at Ridgemont High star an Oscar nomination and put her back in the spotlight. Considering that most of Mary Magdalene's story is centered around Jesus's death and resurrection, Leigh will most likely be playing a mother in mourning.

Pontius Pilate is the Roman prefect who made the ultimate ruling that led to Jesus's crucifixion. Pilate offered the crowd a choice to execute Jesus or a criminal named Barabbas, and respected the angry crowd's insistence on letting the criminal go free. Recalling the character of Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is the ruthless but fair Roman General-turned-revenge-driven-gladiator in Gladiator, Russell Crowe would be an ideal actor to portray this important character. 

Saint Peter was Jesus's right hand man in life, and after his death he would one of the leaders of the early Christian church (in the Roman Catholic church, Peter was the first Pope). Ali Suliman is an Israeli actor who was born in Nazareth, the home of Jesus and many of his Apostles. Suliman appeared in Lone Survivor, Ridley Scott's Body of Lies, and a number of Arabic language films.