The Story Behind the Nativity
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The birth of Jesus Christ comes alive in the New Line Cinema film The Nativity Story. Scott Ross talks with the cast and crew about how they recreated the Christmas miracle.
Scott Ross: You’re delving into Scripture here and you have to take certain liberties obviously to fill in all the blank spaces.
Mike Rich: Sure, I was intimidated. It was clear very early on because there is only a very short passage in Matthew, a very short passage in Luke. If I was going to tackle this particular project, there were going to be an enormous amount of speculative scenes. My goal was just to make sure that all of those scenes were very consistent in tone with the writings of Luke and Matthew.
Ross [reporting]: Catherine Hardwicke, who did production designs for over 20 movies including Vanilla Sky and Tombstone, is one of the first women to ever direct a Biblical epic of this magnitude.
Ross: Are you intimidated at all at the fact that you are a woman who is a director?
Hardwicke: In my mind I don’t think of it in that way. I’ve never been anything else…
Ross: … but a woman or a director.
Hardwicke: Exactly but I think that it is challenging for some people to get their mind around. We have action scenes in this movie with the river crossing or just to do an epic.
Ross [reporting]: The Nativity Story was filmed in Italy and Morocco. Catherine used her expertise to make sure the Biblical accounts were realistically portrayed.
Hardwicke: The Gospel According to St. Matthew and part of Mel Gibson’s The Passion both filmed there for a good reason. You really feel like you’re in Jerusalem. The landscape around it is [full of] these rolling hills with these protruding white limestone rocks and the olive trees. Very similar to the landscape around Nazareth.
Ross [reporting]: Mike Rich spent 11 months on research for historical accuracy. He wanted to recreate the intimate details of what could have happened to Mary and Joseph in the events that brought them together and in their 100-mile journey to Bethlehem.
Rich: The emotions they must have felt along the way and the conversations that they would naturally have had to deal with things such as this.
Hardwicke: At that time you would have no idea. Is the child going to come out glowing or is it even going to look like a normal child? No one had ever given birth to the Son of God, so they had no idea if the child would even come out talking because who would know.
Ross: There is a great line, Mike, that you wrote. Joseph says at some point, “How do I raise such a child?”
Rich: We in hindsight know that there was plenty that he taught him. Of all the characters in this story, his courage and heroism to me is the most compelling in the entire story.
Hardwicke: Now you can tell that’s coming from a guy. Of course all the men really love Joseph.
Ross [reporting]: Guatemalan born actor Oscar Isaac portrays Joseph. I spoke with him about what it took to bring forth the human emotions of Joseph.
Ross: How do you identify with the step-father of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
Oscar Isaac: You don’t actually. That’s the thing. I had to hold on to things that I know like jealousy or love or anger. It’s not that he doesn’t have those feelings but he rises above them.
Ross: What were the great challenges for you in this part?
Isaac: Just to understand how he could not stone her in this dream and take her out there. I know me as a person -- especially having some of that passionate blood in me. I definitely would have reacted very differently. Then when I was doing the scene I realized [that] it’s because he loves her.
Want more Nativity movie information, go to CBN.com's Special Nativity page.