Ewan McGregor stars in the role of a lifetime as both Jesus Christ and Satan in this yet to be released film of 2015 Last Days in the Desert. The film supposedly approaches Jesus Christ in a different manner than previous films of its nature. Director Rodrigo Garcia chose to focus on Jesus Christ’s humanity more and less on his divinity. McGregor appears as Jesus, or as referred to in the film, Yeshua, first after having walked in the desert for forty days when he happens upon a father, mother, and son living in an isolated state. Yeshua is then confronted by a man, still McGregor, that represents Satan. Satan temps Yeshua continuously with the family’s distant relationships and the young mother of the family.
Early reviews of the Sundance film have been out of the park, especially when it came to McGregor’s interpretation of both Christ and Satan. Justin Chang from Variety wrote, “The decision to have McGregor play both roles — which he does superbly, with sometimes only the subtlest quiver of the brow to delineate between the two — turns out to be an inspired stroke, effectively capturing the war raging within Yeshua, as well as the notion that the self, with its wants and desires, can be one’s own greatest enemy.” Given McGregor’s experience ranging from small romantic comedies to the Star Wars franchise, McGregor really loves to take on any role that is thrown at him (and doesn’t disappoint).
Some people have discussed how yet another white male is cast as Jesus, but Chang addressed this, as well. He writes, “And while the casting of yet another white man in a (vaguely) biblical context may earn scorn from the anti-“Exodus” crowd, McGregor, who’s more than a decade older than Jesus was at the time, gives a performance of grave tenderness and humility. He plays Yeshua above all as a deeply human Messiah whose every gesture — allowing a large insect to crawl up his arm, or gently laying a hand on the ailing mother — bespeaks a desire to understand the world he’s entered into and identify fully with its subjects.”