Producer Liz Watts is joining See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman to produce the biopic Mary Magdalene, as was announced today in a press statement. Set to begin shooting on location in Europe later this year, Watts will produce the film through her Sydney-based production company Porchlight Films.
“It’s a great privilege to be a part of bringing the amazing and timely story of Mary Magdalene to the big screen,” said Watts in the press statement. “I am thrilled to be working with such an extraordinary cast and director Garth Davis, whose talent and work I’ve admired for years. And, of course, I’m delighted to be working once again with See Saw Films’ Iain and Emile.”
Iain Canning added “We are delighted to be working with Liz on Mary Magdalene. She has the perfect mix of creative sensibility and production experience. Liz’s credits speak for themselves and we look forward to working with her on this unique project.”
Liz Watts' past credits include Little Fish (2005) starring Cate Blanchett, Tony Krawitz’s Jewboy (2006), Tony Ayres’ The Home Song Stories (2007), David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom (2010), The Hunter (2011) starring Willem Dafoe, Cate Shortland’s Lore (2012) and The Rover (2014) starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. Liz worked with See-Saw on one of the company’s earlier productions, Dead Europe (2012).
Most recently, Watts served as Executive Producer on 8-part TV series The Kettering Incident, and is also executive producing Jasper Jones, the film adaptation of the classic Australian novel by Craig Silvey starring Levi Miller, Angourie Rice, Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving, which will hit cinemas later this year.
Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara (Carol, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is attached to play the title character of Mary Magdalene and Academy Award winner Joaquin Phoenix (Her, Walk the Line) is in talks to play Jesus. Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Martian) is also in talks to play the apostle Peter with French actor Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Past) in talks to play Judas.
Set to be directed by Garth Davis (Top of the Lake, Lion), Mary Magdalene is the portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history. Set in the Holy Land in the first century, the film is the story of a young woman who leaves her small fishing village and family behind to join a new movement. Inspired by its charismatic leader, Jesus of Nazareth, and his teachings, Mary sets out with the disciples on the journey to Jerusalem, where she finds herself at the heart of the founding story of Christianity.
Universal Pictures International Productions (UPIP) is partnering with See-Saw Films to produce the biopic and will release the film in all international territories, except Australia and New Zealand where it will be handled by Transmission Films. The Weinstein Company will release the film in the US in 2017. Film4 co-developed the film with See-Saw.