Honorary Academy Award-winning actor Peter O'Toole is reportedly postponing his retirement for the upcoming "Mary Mother of Christ" movie, in which he plays the role of Simeon, who the Gospel of Luke says blessed Jesus as a baby.
The movie is still in the pre-production and casting stages, with shooting set to take place in Italy, Jordan and British Columbia. Described as a prequel to Mel Gibson's hugely successful 2004 epic "Passion of the Christ," "Mary Mother of Christ," which has Lakewood megachurch pastor Joel Osteen as its executive producer, already has a number of big names attached to the main roles.
The film, which will focus on Mary's life while raising Jesus, will feature Julia Ormond as Elizabeth, mother of John the baptist, and 15-year-old actress Odeya Rush in the role of Mary. Veteran actor Ben Kingsley will reportedly play King Herod, and Hugh Bonneville of "Downton Abbey" is expected to play Satan. O'Toole, who achieved stardom for his role as T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia", said in July 2012 that he was retiring from acting, but now looks set to put off that decision for the Bible-based film.
Aloe Entertainment, the film company behind the movie, was involved in some controversy earlier this summer with reports that profits from the film's script had been extorted from a Mexican businessman by money launderers and drug traffickers.
Written in 2006, the "Mary, Mother of Christ" script was apparently obtained by Mexican businessmen Arturo Madrigal and Mauricio Sanchez Garza and resold to Aloe Entertainment for nearly a million dollars.
"We didn't know about any of this," Osteen said at the time. "The lady who owned the script when we got involved didn't know about it."
Film production has not been affected by the case, however, and convicted money launderer and admitted drug trafficker Jorge Vázquez Sánchez was sentenced to 7 years in prison late September for financial crimes and extortion, My San Antonio reported.
Vázquez and Mauricio Sánchez had apparently kidnapped Arturo Madrigal's brother in Mexico in 2008, forcing Madrigal to sign over his stake in the "Mary, Mother of Christ" movie.