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Andrew Garfield for Martin Scorsese's Silence

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network

Story by Jack Foley

ANDREW Garfield has landed the lead role in Martin Scorsese passion project Silence.

An adaptation of Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo’s long admired classic, the project will see Garfield playing Father Rodrigues, a 17th Century Portuguese Jesuit who travels to Japan with a fellow priest amid rumors that his own mentor has abandoned the Church.

His arrival also comes at a bad time for religious persecution in Asia, as Christians are forced to practice their faith in private. But it also prompts a crisis of faith for Rodrigues.

Garfield will be joined by Ken Watanabe as the priests’ interpreter, as well as a predominantly Japanese cast that includes Issei Ogata (who played Emperor Hirohito in Alexander Sokurov’s The Sun).

Scorsese has spent years trying to get Silence remade (the original was released in 1971 by nonagenarian Masahiro Shinoda) but is fully aware that the project boasts little commercial appeal given that it will mostly be in the Japanese language and has a low budget.

But the director is drawn to the material much as he was by The Last Temptation of Christ and his 1997 Dalai Lama biopic Kundun.

Speaking to Variety, he explained that the roots of religious faith is a subject he has long held dear: “It’s something that has always been part of my life. It’s difficult for people to understand who are not part of that world that I grew up in, which was Roman Catholicism in New York City in the 1950s.

“I was impressed enough to try to become part of that world, and realized at the age of 15 or 16 that it was much tougher, much more complicated than I thought … in terms of vocation.”

He is hopeful, however, that the thriller element of the story will appeal to audiences, as will the timeless nature of the themes.

“Certainly, it’s a religious subject, but the mystery that I’m talking about, Rodrigues’ conflict with himself, and the essence of Christianity – which is something I believe in strongly – is timeless, and has to do with who we are as human beings,” he concluded.

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