Anne Rice fans everywhere will be happy to learn that the beloved and bestselling author is coming to the big screen again. This time, though, it's not vampires. Chris Columbus has signed on to produce an already-written script based on the first in her two-book series on the life of Christ. Her twenty-sixth novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, chronicles a journey Jesus made with his parents from Egypt back home to Nazareth at the age of seven. Critically acclaimed for the painstaking research and rich historical detail, it is essentially the story of Jesus the child finding out who he is. As the author herself put it to me, "In a way the story is the story of Christmas as the boy Jesus comes to understand it ... I don't think the Christmas story has ever been told in this way." Columbus will produce through his 1492 Pictures, in partnership with the South Korean-based CJ Entertainment.
The script is a collaboration between husband and wife team Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh, who together wrote The Stoning of Soraya M., (which Mr. Nowrasteh also directed). The true story of a woman falsely accused of adultery in Iran and subsequently stoned to death, the film was a critical hit, though it was never widely released. After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009, where it received the Runner-Up Audience Choice Award, it went on to win the Audience Award for Best Feature at that year's Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as a slew of other festival awards around the world. Coincidentally, Ms. Rice had just seen, and loved, the film when her agent told her of the Nowrastehs' interest in Christ the Lord. "When they sent me their script for the film, I loved it ... They really want to do the book in the spirit of the book," Ms. Rice says.
Of course Ms. Rice is no stranger to the adaptation process, or to Hollywood. Her novels Exit to Eden (from her pre-gothic days), Interview with the Vampire, and The Queen of the Damned were all turned into popular movies, with Rice herself adapting Interview for director Neil Jordan. She has also been in the producer role on three TV movies. As for this latest journey from page to screen, Ms. Rice has had input into the screenplay, but as of yet has no official role in the production. She writes that she has been thrilled with the process so far. "I have very high hopes for this. Very high hopes," she says. As do we.