The BBC's Passion programme (see previous posts) is filming currently somewhere in Morocco (probably Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate), but there's not much news about it so far. However, the IMDb has recently posted the details of 5 of the cast, including the all important leading role. It seems that Jesus is going to be played by an actor called Joseph Mawle.
When producer Nigel Stafford-Clark was interviewed about this film recently he was unable to name the actor who had been chosen, but he did say that he was someone who was relatively unknown. At the time his explanation that he was someone that you would know if you'd seen one of the things his been in but won't otherwise seemed a little strange, but having looked a bit at his previous roles this is actually a very good description. After starting off in the theatre, he's mainly done TV work, and has been getting more prominent roles lately including Captain Harville in last year's Persuasion, Tim in Clapham Junction and Dean Whittingham in Soundproof. He's won acclaim for all three of those roles, as well as for his earlier work on Sir Gadabout, the Worst Knight in the Land which won a BAFTA. He also featured in a Guinness ad.
There are a couple of interesting pieces of trivia about Mawle. Firstly he was born in March 1974 which means he's currently 33 (Jesus's traditional age at the time of his crucifixion). Secondly, Mawle is partially deaf, having been completely deaf from the ages of 16 to 18. This certainly gave extra significance to his performance as a deaf man in Soundproof but it will also give an interesting angle here playing a renown miracle worker who the gospels record healing those with hearing difficulties. As this film is concentrating on the events leading up to Jesus's death, I don't think it's likely that scenes such as Mark 7:31-37 will be shown. However, I do believe that this is the first time that Jesus has been played by someone with hearing difficulties.
Finally, I think Mawle has a great face for this role - something that is generally of greater significance than most commentators are prepared to admit. There's a good ruggedness about him, and whilst he's still good looking, it's in a Sean Bean sort of a way. There's no shortage of character in his face, but plenty of compassion too. He's blond, but I can't make out his eye colour. Of course both of these things can be altered these days as Mel Gibson ably demonstrated. Given some of the comments Stafford Clark made about authenticity in that interview then I'd be surprised if he appears as blond haired and blue eyed in the final production. So at this stage, this looks like a great choice.
(Thanks to "George" for the tip off).