Luca Marinelli portrays Joseph and Alissa Jung as Mary in a scene from the movie Mary of Nazareth.

CNS PHOTO | COURTESY OF IGNATIUS PRESS

Luca Marinelli portrays Joseph and Alissa Jung as Mary in a scene from the movie Mary of Nazareth.

December 16, 2013
VERONICA AMBUUL
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Preparing for the title role in Mary of Nazareth helped German actress Alissa Jung to realize that Mary was not only the mother of God but a real person.

"Before doing this film, Mary was always the mother of Jesus, but I didn't think of her as an interesting person," Jung said. "I was really taken by her. Her way of loving, giving and believing is a big example, and she's a wonderful person. I think I changed my perspective."

Mary of Nazareth is a European-made film shot largely in Tunisia that is being distributed by Ignatius Press in the United States.

At first, the thought of playing the mother of God was overwhelming, Jung said. An added challenge was that the movie was going to be filmed entirely in English.

SHOCKED

"The first two days I was a bit shocked. Then I calmed myself down and said, 'First of all, you are interested in the human being, you are not interested in being an icon,'" Jung said.

From the point of view of an actress, the role presented a challenge because Jung had to simultaneously convey both the joy of Mary's motherhood and her sorrow in knowing Jesus would die.

"That was really interesting to me as an actress, to have the possibility of having this huge conflict – to believe in something and lose your son for this," Jung said.

Jung, who is not Catholic, said that filming the movie was also an enjoyable experience because the storyline prompted a lot of reflections about faith among the cast and crew.

"There were a lot of discussions about religion," she said. "I liked it because I think it's a way to understand other cultures and other people, to really understand their way of believing."

More information about Mary of Nazareth and a trailer of the film can be found at www.maryfilm.com.