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Mel Gibson, admired for his tenacity in producing the blockbuster movie The Passion of the Christ, but whose personal life has led to embarrassing headlines, is developing a film for Warner Bros. about the life of Jewish hero Judah Maccabee.

“Gibson’s Icon Productions has closed the producing deal with Warner Bros. and Joe Eszterhas will write the screenplay,” writes Los Angeles Times Staff writer Geoff Boucher.

Gibson reportedly may act in the film and will decide if he’ll direct it after he reads Eszterhas’ script. 

Maccabee, his four brothers and his father led the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that occurred in the years between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Their story is told in 1 and 2 Maccabees, two books in the Catholic Apocrypha — books written in Hebrew by a Jewish author around the latter part of the 2nd century. The books are considered scripture by the Catholic, Orthodox and Coptic churches, but not by most Protestants. In modern-day Judaism, the books are given great historical importance, but are not considered part of the Bible.

About a century after the conquest of Judea by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to suppress the practice of Judaism and ceremonially defiled the Jewish temple, sacrificing a pig on the altar. The result was a Jewish revolt from 175 to 134 BC, led by the Maccabeus family. The role of the father of the revolt’s leader, the priest Mattathias Maccabeus, “might be a logical one for the 55-year-old Gibson if he does opt to appear in the film,” writes Boucher:

Maccabee is a figure who has fascinated Gibson for years, and at one point he considered this as a follow-up project to “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004. Gibson’s camp describes the film in terms that resonate with past Gibson projects, such as “Braveheart” or Roland Emmerich’s “The Patriot.”

History and religion are career cornerstones for Gibson the filmmaker. He wrote, produced and directed “The Passion of the Christ,” which became a global sensation and, with $612 million in worldwide box office, stands as the highest -grossing R-rated film of all time.

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