After last year’s slew of biblically themed movies, Hollywood is continuing its focus on faith-based projects into 2015 – and this time, it’s adding Hugh Jackman into the mix. The actor has reportedly signed on to star as the titular man of God (also known as Saul of Tarsus) in Warner Bros.’ upcoming film, Apostle Paul.
Though not one of the original Twelve Apostles, Paul is considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. According to the Biblical accounts, he began life as a man named Saul of Tarsus but experienced a religious epiphany involving a great blinding white light from Jesus while on a journey from Jerusalem to Damascus. Paul subsequently founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe under his new name, using his status as a Jewish and Roman citizen to bring his ministry to both audiences. He is also believed to be responsible for writing 14 out of the 27 books of the New Testament.
Per Deadline, Jackman will produce the project, as well as star. But he’s not the only A-list name attached. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are both on board to co-produce the film under their Pearl Street banner along with Jennifer Todd and Chris Clarke. Matt Cook, the writer behind Triple 9 and the upcoming Liam Hemsworth flick By Way of Helena, is set to pen the script. With such a notable creative team assembled, Apostle Paul could quickly shape up to be one of the most high-profile, religious-oriented films in recent history.
This isn’t the first time that Paul the apostle has been portrayed on screen. The story was depicted in the 2000 TV movie St. Paul. Actor Harry Dean Stanton also played the figure in Martin Scorsese’s controversial 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ.
While religious-themed flicks have long since been a part of the movie industry, news of the Apostle Paul film comes just as Hollywood seems to be placing a special emphasis back on the genre. 2014 saw the release of so many faith-based titles, that some coined it “the year of Bible.” Acclaimed directors, Darren Aronofsky and Ridley Scott, both released biblically inspired epics with Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, respectively. Several smaller films, including Son of God, God’s Not Dead, and Heaven is for Real, also went on to become surprise hits.
With those titles having reached box office success, it seems the trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Apostle Paul is far from the only faith-oriented movie headed our way. Mary, a prequel to The Passion of the Christ starring Julia Ormond and Ben Kingsley, is scheduled for release this spring. Meanwhile, Will Smith has long since been working on a Cain and Abel film, and Pontius Pilate, a script which once had Brad Pitt attached to star, is reportedly also still in development.
Having an acclaimed and well-established star like Jackman in the lead is sure to garner Apostle Paul plenty of attention. A premiere date for the film hasn’t been confirmed yet, but the actor also has plenty of other projects in the pipeline. He will reprise his X-Men role in the latest and probably last Wolverine film, set to hit theaters in March 3, 2017. He will also portray PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman On Earth, due out in 2016.