Mel Gibson To Direct 'Passion', Jesus Christ Bio

Mel Gibson has committed to return to the director's chair with "Passion," starring James Caviezel in a chronicle of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ, reported Variety

Helming gig will be Gibson's first since winning multiple Oscars with "Braveheart" in 1995, he will limit himself to off-camera duties.

No U.S. studio (not even Fox, where Icon is based) has so far taken distribution rights to the spiritual drama, to be shot in Latin and Aramaic. "Obviously, nobody wants to touch something filmed in two dead languages," Gibson explained at a news conference Friday in the Sala Fellini at Cinecitta. "They think I'm crazy, and maybe I am. But maybe I'm a genius.

"I want to show the film without subtitles," he added. "Hopefully, I'll be able to transcend language barriers with visual storytelling. If I fail, I'll put subtitles on it, though I don't want to."

"The idea came to me 10 years ago and has been rambling around in my empty head, very slowly taking shape ever since," Gibson said. "I think this is a pretty timeless and timely story to tell, involving an area where there's turbulence now just as there was turbulence then because history repeats itself.

"I want to show the humanity of Christ as well as the divine aspect," he continued. "It's a rendering that for me is very realistic and as close as possible to what I perceive the truth to be."

Remaining cast flanking Caviezel as Christ will be Italian actors. Gibson is in advanced talks with Monica Bellucci to play Mary Magdalene ("Malena"). Talks are also taking place with Sergio Rubini ("The Talented Mr. Ripley") to play the good thief Dismas, while Rosalinda Celentano has signed to appear as Satan.

Ben Fitzgerald and Gibson scripted from several sources, freely adapting the diaries of Anne Catherine Emmerich, collected in the book "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ," Mary of Agreda's "The City of God" and the New Testament Gospels of Luke, John, Matthew and Mark.

Principal locations will be the towns of Matera and Craco in Italy's southern Basilicata region, with extensive work on constructions on the Cinecitta backlot and four soundstages.

Project has begun pre-production at Rome's Cinecitta Studios and will shoot for 10 weeks in Italy starting Nov. 4.

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