Jewish teen actress to play young Virgin Mary in film

Israeli-born actress Odeya Rush will play a young Virgin Mary in a Hollywood prequel to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot reported.

Odeya Rush photo/andrew drucker

The 15-year-old will star in the film “Mary, Mother of the Christ” opposite Ben Kingsley and Julia Ormond, the newspaper reported. She has been cast to personify the title character at the ages of 8, 15 and 19.

Rush, who moved to the U.S. at age 9 to pursue acting, has played parts on TV’s “Law and Order” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” She snagged a central role in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” a Disney movie to be released this summer.

“Mary,” penned by “Passion” screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald, will be directed by Alister Grierson. Filming is expected to begin in August, and is set to take place in Malta, Jordan and California.

Rush said that she was somewhat reluctant when she was initially handed the script, but found it completely devoid of anti-Semitic sentiment.

“On the contrary,” she said. “The film emphasizes the suffering inflicted on the Jews by the Romans in those days. It is very exciting for me.” —