Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson could star as Joseph of Arimathea in the planned epic film Glastonbury; Isle of Light.
Yesterday Nuala Barton, executive producer of the film – which Hollywood has nurtured for some time – visited Glastonbury and its abbey for the first time.
She said she was seduced by the town’s history, legend and the creative potential of the magic of Avalon – but the film is likely to be largely shot in Kazakhstan, mostly famous in Hollywood terms for Sacha Baron Cohen’s infamous Borat movie.
Ms Barton, mother of Hollywood star Mischa Barton, revealed that Mr Neeson is among the leading actors with whom the film company Galatia is in talks.
Joseph of Arimathea is said to have fled Jerusalem for Britain after the Crucifixion, brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury, and planted his staff on Wearyall Hill, and saw it transform into a Holy Thorn.
The film, will link Joseph and Caractacus, the ancient British hero who fought a guerrilla war against the Romans. A script is written, the backing money for the $40million dollar production is more or less in place, and Ms Barton is continuing to scout for locations.
Yesterday she said much of the filming will take place in Kazakhstan, which has put up a good deal of the backing money, but filming in Glastonbury is also a must.
“We are very interested to get this film made in Glastonbury and have been working on this for probably a year,” she said. “That’s why I am here to take a look. I was in Kazakhstan earlier this year scouting locations because this is a film which takes place as a journey across Europe but its culmination is Glastonbury. It’s a journey from Jerusalem to the abbey.”
Speaking in the Joseph of Arimathea Crypt of the great ruined abbey’s Lady Chapel she said: “I hadn’t been to Glastonbury before and it is a pleasure to be here. I would just love to see a film like this made. I think it is one of those timeless legends that people will warm to.”
Holding the reins on the entire production is Galatia Films based on the East Coast of the United States. Renowned special effects team WETA workshop, which produced stunning effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy will also be involved.
Somerset Tourism Association has been deeply involved in promoting the project and helping the producers achieve their goal. Vice chairman John Turner said it is the biggest opportunity ever to create a real point of difference for Somerset tourism: “Not only giving the county direct connections with Hollywood, but more importantly, ‘finally’, putting Somerset’s history and heritage on the international map.
Councillor David Hall said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase the county.”