Keisha Castle-Hughes playing Virgin Mary

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Monday, March 20, 2006

New Zealand actress and Whale Rider (2002) star Keisha Castle-Hughes will star as The Blessed Virgin Mary in the upcoming New Line Cinema film, Nativity.

Castle-Hughes, 15, who is of Australian and Maori descent, was the youngest actress to be nominated for a best-actress Academy Award when she was recognized for her role in Whale Rider.

Catherine Hardwicke, who is best known for Three Kings (1999), will direct.

Nativity looks at the life of the biblical couple Mary and Joseph prior to the birth of Jesus, showing how their faith, love and beliefs are tested. The script incorporates the couple's journey from Nazereth to Bethlehem, and includes figures such as King Herod and the three astrologers (a.k.a. the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men).

Filming is scheduled to begin in May and will include locations in Morroco and Italy. The studio aims for a December 2006 release.