Ben Kingsley Circling ‘Mary Mother of Christ’ (Exclusive)

Ben Kinglsey may play King Herod in "Mary Mother of Christ," a prequel to "The Passion of the Christ"

Ben Kingsley is circling the project “Mary Mother of Christ,” which has been dubbed as a prequel to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.

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Kingsley would play the role of King Herod in this film, to be directed by Alister Grierson. The story revolves around Mary’s attempts to defy King Herod in order to save her son, Jesus.

The script was written by Benedict Fitzgerald and Barbara Nicolosi. Fitzgerald co-wrote “The Passion of the Christ” with Mel Gibson.

Odeya Rush has been cast as Mary, with Peter O’Toole due to play Symeon and Julia Ormond in the role of Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin.

Also read: Cannes: Alister Grierson to Direct Biblical 'Prequel' 'Mary Mother of Christ' 

In what is turning out to be an all-English nativity play, the producers were also said to be interested in Judi Dench for the role of Anna the Prophetess and in Hugh Bonneville for the role of Satan.

Lionsgate is distributing the film in North America. Texas pastor Joel Osteen is executive producing, and Mary Aloe of Aloe Entertainment and Shawn Williamson of Bright Light Pictures are producing. Motive Entertainment will also play a role in selling the film.