Joaquin Phoenix tried to express 'human quality' in portrayal of Jesus Christ

Actor Joaquin Phoenix focused on conveying "personal experience" for his part in Garth Davis's biblical biopic Mary Magdalene.

Joaquin Phoenix looked to express a "human quality" in his portrayal of Jesus Christ in new movie Mary Magdalene.

The actor is currently promoting the biblical drama, in which he stars opposite his girlfriend Rooney Mara, who takes on the part of the titular figure.

Directed by Garth Davis, the narrative follows Magdalene's journey from a small fishing village to the Holy Land capital of Jerusalem, and while there is a wealth of information available on the topic, Phoenix decided to treat his characterisation just as he would any other.

"There was lots of material. Lots of conflicting material," he told The Guardian. "But, in the end, it's a character. And, as with all characters, whether it's Johnny Cash or whoever, you have to make it about a man; about his personal experience. And for Jesus, what makes his death such a sacrifice is that he didn't want to die. This was a man who wanted to continue the experience of living, just as we all do. So, it was important to me to find those human qualities."

Phoenix, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of musician Cash in 2005 biopic Walk the Line, has been enjoying a break from Hollywood, but after nearly three years away, he's set to make a major comeback. In addition to Mary Magdalene, he is doing press tours for Lynne Ramsay's thriller You Were Never Really Here.

And the auteur filmmaker had nothing but praise for the 43-year-old, sharing that he's "instinctual" when it comes to his performances.

"He's instinctual and unpredictable. The range of stuff that he gave me... I could have made several other completely different films," she said.

Phoenix has also been cast as Napoleon Childs in Casey Affleck's Far Bright Star and linked to DC Comics' The Joker origins movie, but so far has remained tight-lipped about the rumours.

Mary Magdalene, which also features Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim, is due to hit cinemas from 15 March (18).

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