If you thought the entire planet had been taken over by The Onion upon reading the news that Mel Gibson is planning a movie about Jewish religious leader Judah Maccabee (!) with Joe Eszterhas writing the screenplay (!!), you probably weren't alone. On first, second and fifteenth blush, the idea is still hard to believe, so much so that the good folks at Vulture have come up with a handy parlor game you can fool around with on this slow Friday afternoon. ("Mel Gibson Writing a Jewish Hero Movie Is Like Who Doing What?"; fave suggested answer: Tracy Morgan starring in 'The Normal Heart.') For Gibson, however, the Judah Maccabee film is a passion project he's been hoping to produce for a while.
In a just-published interview by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg -- one conducted several years ago, Goldberg says, as part of research for an upcoming book he's writing about Maccabee -- Gibson revealed at least some of his thought process behind the project.

"I just read [Book of Maccabees I and II] when I was teenager, and it's amazing. It's almost like" -- here, he grabbed my digital recorder, held it to his mouth, and spoke in a portentous movie-announcer voice -- "They profaned his Temple. They killed his father. They... all kinds of stuff. In the face of great odds for something he believed in" -- here he switched out of movie-announcer voice -- "Oh, my God, the odds they faced. The armies they faced had elephants! How cinematic is this! Even Judah's dad -- what's his name? Mattathias? -- you kind of get this guy who more or less is trying to avoid the whole thing, but he just gets to a place where had enough, and he just snapped!"

The story of Judah Maccabee also includes some instances of barbaric circumcision and general genital violence, but don't worry: per this years-old interview, Gibson said he'd leave that out. Not that he doesn't have a joke for the occasion. "Hey, did you know they use foreskins for replacing eyelids?" began the embattled star. Click through to The Atlantic to read the punchline. (Or maybe don't.)

[via The Atlantic]

categories Movies