Irish Eye on Hollywood:
The Mara Sisters to Tackle Jesus and the Kennedys 

Rooney and Kate Mara. (Photo: Neon Robot / Flickr)

By Tom Deignan, Contributor
February / March 2018

The Irish American Mara sisters – Rooney and Kate – are not just on their way to dominating Hollywood like few other siblings have. They are also not afraid to court controversy along the way. Both have movies coming out soon that deal with issues likely to get some Irish folks riled up.

First there is Rooney Mara, who has already worked with some of the biggest directors in the business, including David Fincher (The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Spike Jonze (Her), and Ireland’s own Jim Sheridan (The Secret Scripture). In March, just in time for Easter, look for Mara in the title role of Mary Magdalene, which also stars Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. Such biblical films are a staple of old-time Hollywood – think The Ten Commandments and King of Kings – but in more recent years have been the subject of intense controversy. From Martin Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, films about the life of Jesus and his followers have upset a wide range of folks (Irish Catholics among them), and Mary Magdalene may not be any different. Early word is that the film takes a highly sympathetic view of Mary Magdalene, who has sometimes been interpreted as a prostitute, and even Jesus’ romantic lover. The film also takes a cue from the Hamilton school of casting and features a diverse international cast as Jesus’ followers, including Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Peter and Algerian-French actor Tahar Rahim as Judas. Rooney Mara will also appear in the decidedly more offbeat film Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, directed by Oscar-nominee Gus van Zant, and which premiered in late January at the Sundance Film Festival. Don’t Worry, based on a memoir by Irish American cartoonist John Callahan, will receive a wider release in May.

Meanwhile, in April, Rooney’s sister Kate will star as Mary Jo Kopechne in a new movie based on the terrible accident that cost Senator Ted Kennedy any shot he ever had at the presidency. Directed by Irish American Utica, New York-native John Curran, the film is entitled Chappaquiddick, after the location of a car crash that left Kopechne dead when a car driven by Kennedy skidded off a bridge. Kennedy infamously waited hours before reporting the accident and Kopechne’s death. Questions about the incident would dog Kennedy for years, and it was among the factors that sunk his presidential ambitions by 1980. Chappaquiddick also stars Jason Clarke (Brotherhood, The Great Gatsby) and Jim Gaffigan.

Further down the road, Kate will appear in a new Ryan Murphy musical/drama TV series for FX entitled Pose, which will look at a broad cross-section of Manhattan life in the 1980s. ♦

More Irish Eye on Hollywood:

The Golden Age of Irish Prestige TV

Novel Adaptations for Irish Writers

John Cusack Takes a Villainous Turn in Irish Western

Flatley and McGinty Are Dancing to the Big Screen

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