Studio Script Notes on “The Passion”

Very funny satirical script notes written by Steve Martin (aka Stan) in The New Yorker March 5th

From the New Yorker, The Back Page by Steve Martin


Dear Mel, We love, love the script! The ending works great. You’ll be getting a call from us to start negotiations for the book rights. -Love the Jesus character. So likable. He can’t seem to catch a break! We identify with him because of it. One thing: I think we need to clearly state "the rules." Why doesn’t he use his superpowers to save himself? Our creative people suggest that you could simply cut away to two spectators: SPECTATOR ONE Why doesn’t he use his superpowers to save himself? SPECTATOR TWO He can only use his powers to help others, never himself.

-Does it matter which garden? Gethsemane is hard to say, and Eden is a much more recognizable garden. Just thinking out loud.

-Our creative people suggest a clock visual fading in and out in certain scenes, like the Last Supper bit: "Thursday, 7:43 P.M.," or "Good Friday, 5:14 P.M."

-Love the repetition of "Is it I?" Could be very funny. On the eighth inquiry, could Jesus just give a little look of exasperation into the camera? Breaks frame, but could be a riot.

-Also, could he change water into wine in Last Supper scene? Would be a great moment, and it’s legit. History compression is a movie tradition and could really brighten up the scene. Great trailer moment, too.

-Love the flaying.

-Could the rabbis be Hispanic? There’s lots of hot Latino actors now, could give us a little zing at the box office. Research says there’s some historical justification for it. -Possible title change: "Lethal Passion." Kinda works. The more I say it out loud, the more I like it.

-Is there someplace where Jesus could be using an iBook? You know, now that I say it, it sounds ridiculous. Strike that. But think about it. Maybe we start a shot in Heaven with Jesus thoughtfully closing the top? -Love the idea of Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene (yow!). Our creative people suggest a name change to Heather. Could skew our audience a little younger.

-Love Judas. Such a great villain. Our creative people suggest that he’s a little complicated. Couldn’t he be one thing? Just bad? Gives the movie much more of a motor. Also, thirty pieces of silver is not going to get anyone excited. I think it’d be very simple to make him a "new millionaire." Bring in the cash on a tray. Great dilemma that the audience can identify with. -Minor spelling error: on page 18, in the description of the bystanders, there should be a space between the words "Jew" and "boy."

-Merchandising issue: it seems the Cross image Has been done to death and is public domain-we can’t own it. Could the Crucifixion scene involve something else? A Toyota would be wrong, but maybe there’s a shape we can copyright, like a wagon wheel?

-I’m assuming "The dialogue is in Aramaic" is a typo for "American." If not, call me on my cell, or I’m at home all weekend.

By the way, I’m sending a group of staffers on a cruise to the North Pole, coincidentally around the time of your picture’s release. Would love to invite your dad!

See you at the movies!

Yours, Stan

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