the last planet

Terrence Malick is already at work on his next film, The Last Planet, which finds the acclaimed director telling the story of everyone’s favorite holy carpenter, Jesus H. Christ. And since you usually can’t tell a story about Jesus without Satan popping-up somewhere, it looks like Old Scratch is going to be represented in the film as played by Mark Rylance. But Rylance isn’t just playing one Satan – he’s playing four different versions of the character.

Rylance broke the news about his multiple Satans to Allocine, saying:

“Terry wrote four versions of the character of Satan, and I thought I would play only one. But I heard I was going to play all four. One of them must have been a woman at some point, but it was when he asked me to grow a beard that I realized I wasn’t going to do it that way. I’m very happy to act for Terrence Malick, but I’m intrigued, because I hear he talks to you all the time. And coming from the theater, I’m not used to the director yelling at me while I act or tell me what to do. But his films always intrigued me.”

Meanwhile, Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul) is playing Jesus, and Matthias Schoenaerts, who appears in Malick’s latest film A Hidden Life, is set to play St. Peter. In addition to this casting, One Big Soul reveals that Joseph Fiennes, Douglas Booth, Alfonso Postiglione, and Lorenzo Gioiell are also in the film. Postiglione posted the news on his Instagram, and wrote that he’s playing “the producer”, Fiennes is playing “the director”, Booth is “the writer”, and Gioiell is “the other producer.” It’s not entirely clear what Postiglione is implying here, but perhaps this indicates there’s more to The Last Planet than another biblical story. Perhaps it’s about a filmmaker making a movie about the life of Jesus? Or perhaps Jesus time travels to the future to pitch his story to a big movie studio. That second theory is less likely, but I can dream.

In any case, all of this sounds intriguing. The prospect of Malick telling some sort of Jesus narrative has mountains of potential, and the idea of Mark Rylance playing four different versions of Satan could end up being brilliant. I know many consider most of Malick’s recent output to be lacking. And I’d agree that a lot of the films he’s released since Tree of Life have been directionless curiosities. But A Hidden Life is a true return to form for the director, blending both his ethereal style with an actual narrative. Besides, even a Malick failure is more interesting than 90% of the junk Hollywood pumps out monthly.

There’s no release date for The Last Planet yet, but it’s likely to arrive sometime in 2022.

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