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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 11:55 GMT
Star shines in Herod nativity role
Arthur Strain
BBC news website

A Belfast actor who played Julius Caesar on television has taken on another role from antiquity.

But this time Ciaran Hinds, is playing the scheming Jewish monarch King Herod in New Line Cinema's The Nativity Story - a retelling of the story of the birth of Christ.

Belfast actor Ciaran Hinds plays Herod in the film

With Whale Rider star Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary and Oscar Isaac as Joseph, the film - directed by Catherine Hardwicke - will be in cinemas over the festive season.

The former Queen's University, Belfast, student has appeared in big-budget movies such as Road to Perdition, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, The Sum of All Fears and Munich.

The doctor's son has also appeared in films set in his home town, taking on the role of Jonjo's dad in Mickybo and Me and also appeared in Some Mother's Son.

However, it was his role as Caesar in the critically-acclaimed epic BBC/HBO television drama which brought him to worldwide attention.

The lavish 12-part saga screened on BBC2 - which focused on the dying days of the Roman republic and its transition to an empire - was nominated for two Golden Globe awards.

Hinds quit studying law at Queen's to attend RADA and began his stage career at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre as the rear end of a horse in the production of Cinderella.

His film career began in 1981 in the movie Excalibur and 2007 looks set to be just another busy year for him appearing in four upcoming movies, including The Tale of Despereaux, There Will Be Blood and Hallam Foe.

Ciaran Hinds as Caesar in Rome
Ciaran Hinds starred as Julius Caesar in Rome

The nativity film was shot in the village of Matera in Italy, which has been virtually unchanged for centuries and was used as a location for The Passion of the Christ.

But the shots of Herod's castle and the temple of Jerusalem were filmed in Ouarzazate in Morocco, a location which also featured in Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven.

The director said, on the film's website, that the story of the birth of Christ still means a lot to people.

"This story means so much to people all over the world. I hope audiences can relate to the film on a personal level and find some inspiration to get through their own challenges and difficulties," she said.


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