"I cringe a little bit when I think 'Bible movie,'" says Rodrigo Garcia, with a smile.

The writer/director is talking about Last Days in the Desert, his new film premiering at Sundance next week, which stars Ewan McGregor as Jesus and Satan. Garcia isn't against Biblical epics, but that isn't what he's made—no eye-popping effects, no epic battles, no lines lifted from Bible passages. Instead, Last Days is a character-driven meditation on family and mortality, haunting and spare.

On a cold December weekend in New York City, I'm meeting Garcia over breakfast and coffee to talk about how you make a movie about fathers and sons in which the main character also happens to be the most famous son of all time: Yeshua, as the film calls him.

“I wrote a few pages in which I called him Jesus,” Garcia explains. “But when you're writing a screenplay and it says ‘Jesus walks, Jesus says,’ after a while, the weight of the name is paralyzing.”

As Garcia reminds me, in his native Spanish, Jesus is a common name. “But in English, it has big connotations”—nobody in the English-speaking world names their kid Jesus. "Once I decided I'm going to call him Yeshua, it liberated me."

Garcia is not a devout Christian, but he grew up in Catholic Colombia, “so I am as well-versed as the average Catholic person is on the circumstances of Jesus. Even as a child, I never felt a strong religious impulse, but I was always fascinated by him.”

The son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, Garcia grew up around writers and artists. His ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Tags:
Read These Next
Current IssueWhy Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage
Why Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage Subscriber Access Only
A new focus on the family is changing how Christians care for abandoned and neglected children.
RecommendedWhy We Need Wonder Woman
Why We Need Wonder Woman
Even when it falters, the new female-led film brings freshness to the superhero flick.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Ewan McGregor and Rodrigo Garcia On Jesus, Satan, ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2015

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.