Spielberg searching for a star

Steven Spielberg.

AN Australia-wide search is underway for a young boy to play a lead role in a new film to be directed by Steven Spielberg. The boy must be aged between six and nine years old and appear to be Jewish Italian, although an Italian accent is not required. According to casting agency McGregor Casting, the Australian search is just one leg of a global search to find the right child for the role.

The film, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, is based on the 1997 book of the same name, written by Pulitzer-prize winning author David Kertzer.

It will recount the true story of a young Jewish boy from Bologna, Italy, who was reported to have been secretly baptised by a maid, and was therefore deemed by the Catholic Church to be Christian. Pope Pius IX decreed that the boy could not remain with his Jewish family, so Edgardo was seized by the Papal State in 1858 and taken to the Vatican, where his indoctrination into Catholicism began. 

His parents’ struggle to free their son becomes part of a larger political battle that pits the papacy against forces of democracy. This was a cause célèbre of mid-19th century European politics, and the domestic and international outrage against the pontifical state’s actions may have contributed to its downfall and Italian unification.

Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, will star as Pope Pius IX. 

“This is a unique and very challenging part for a truly special boy,” said a representative from McGregor Casting. “The story deals with the complexity of an extremely intelligent and gifted child’s desire to return to his family and his faith against his ability to learn the catechism and engage with the Pope on a level far beyond his years.”

The film will be produced by Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, the production team behind Bridge of Spies. Shooting will begin in Italy in April 2017 and the movie is set to premiere in December. 

Anyone suitable for the part can apply online at www.mcgregorcasting.com/casting-calls.

YAEL BRENDER