The Hard Work of Making Anne Rice’s Jesus Book into a Movie

How 'Christ the Lord' Became 'The Young Messiah'
The Hard Work of Making Anne Rice’s Jesus Book into a Movie
Image: Focus Features

It's been a long, rocky road to the big screen for The Young Messiah, but at last, it's here.

The film is based on a 2005 novel called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which takes place when Jesus is seven years old and his family is returning to Nazareth from Egypt. It was written by Anne Rice—best known for her vampire novels—after she returned to the Catholic church. An early attempt to make a film based on the novel fell apart in 2007, and Rice herself publicly quit Christianity in 2010, though she said she still follows Christ.

The book’s film prospects turned a corner when Rice wrote a glowing review of The Stoning of Soraya M., a 2009 movie about the treatment of women in Iran that was directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, an American of Persian descent. Nowrasteh acquired the rights to Rice’s book, wrote a script with his wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, and got Harry Potter director Chris Columbus to come on board as a producer. The film comes out March 11.

CT spoke to Cyrus Nowrasteh about creating new characters for the film, the tricky nature of movie ratings, the role the film played in his own journey towards Christian faith, and the possibility of a sequel. The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

How involved was Anne Rice beyond letting you have the rights to the property? Did she have any input after that?

Contractually, no. We acquired the book and ran with it, and we were going to do it the way we wanted. However, we felt that Anne had a lot to contribute, because she had done a lot of the research. Also, we wanted to make changes, and I just felt that, as the original author, she was entitled to be at least consulted and informed. I would do that with any author, whether ...

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The Hard Work of Making Anne Rice’s Jesus Book into a Movie
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