The second round of location shooting for Man of God, the movie about St. Nektarios of Aegina, is scheduled for the first part of September in Greece. Yelena Popovic, the movie producer, director and writer, told Greek journalists how she chose the actors.
The saint is played by Aris Servetalis (Greece), who was the best choice, she says: “When I saw him, the director inside me felt from his aura that he was the ideal one. This role has some requirements, the actor impersonating Saint Nektarios must be able to touch you without even opening his mouth. This is exactly what Aris does”.
The fact that she had made the correct decision was confirmed when the Greek actor told her: “I would love to [interpret the saint’s role]. But are you sure I can do it?”
A short, but impactful role has Hollywood star Mickey Rourke. He interprets the paralyzed man miraculously cured by the saint while the latter was on his deathbed at the Aretheion Hospital in Athens.
Yelena Popovic offered him the role because she had never forgotten his short, but powerful play in the movie The Pledge (2001), directed by Sean Penn. “When I gave the script to his agent he said ‘What is it about? Is it a miserable horror or action movie or something?’” she recalls.
“There are some things that catch Mickey’s attention and one of them is the pain and the Saints, something I already knew. Within a few days, Mickey replied that he liked it very much, that he was touched by the story and would do it.”
In 2009, the American actor confessed his gratitude to God for helping him overcome his addictions, which had led him on the brink of suicide.
The cast also includes Alexander Petrov (Russia) and the music is written by Zbigniew Preisner (Poland), who wrote the music for Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s movies.
Man of God is a homage to morality, modesty and devotion paid in the 100th year since his repose. Yelena Popovic wanted to write a screenplay on “the search for light”, one that can inspire people to overcome life’s difficulties. Her message is: “Have faith, be kind and forgive. There is joy in the rollercoaster of life and we can all find it”.
The turning point in the making of the project was a book about the saint’s life which Yelena Popovic read in 2012. “I was born in Serbia, I was a Christian Orthodox but I knew nothing about religion. When I came to America I started reading about what Christianity is.”
Yelena Popovic left Serbia for the US when she was 16 and lived for a long time in Los Angeles. While she was preparing the movie, things arranged in her life so that she relocated to native Belgrade. She travelled many times on the Island of Aegina to visit the monastery refounded by the saint. “In each of my visits I feel tremendous joy, I can not explain it”, she said.
The film is produced by Simeon Entertainment and View Master Films, in cooperation with the Vatopaidi Monastery from the Holy Mount Athos and it will be distributed in movie theatres by Feelgood Entertainment starting from December 3.
Photo courtesy of NDP (article opening)