The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Maia Morgenstern

Maia Morgernstern (b. May 1, 1962) is a Romanian film and stage actress. In the English-speaking world, she is probably best known for the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In Romania, she has been nationally known since her 1992 role as Nela in "Balanţa", a film known in the United States as "The Oak", set during the waning days of Communist Romania.

Born in Bucharest, in a Jewish family, she graduated from the Film and Theatre Academy of Bucharest in 1985, then she played at the youth theater (Teatrul Tineretului) in Piatra Neamţ until 1988, then at the Teatrul Evreiesc de Stat (State Jewish Theatre) in Bucharest 1988-1990. Since 1990 she has been a member of the company of the National Theatre in Bucharest; in addition, she continues to act at the State Jewish Theatre and other Bucharest theaters. Among her notable stage roles in recent years, in a Romanian-language production of The Blue Angel (Îngerul Albastru in Romanian) at Bucharest's Odeon Theater, in 2001-2 she played (to great critical acclaim) Lola Lola, the character made famous by Marlene Dietrich. At the same time, she was also playing the role of Kathleen Hogan in a Romanian-language production of Israel Horovitz 's "Park Your Car in Harvard Yard " at the State Jewish Theater.

Morgenstern has appeared in numerous films, primarily in Hungarian and Romanian-language roles. In "The Passion of the Christ", she acts a role in Aramaic, but like the other actors in the cast of that film, she simply memorized her lines phonetically.

Her surname Morgenstern means "Morning Star" a title of the Virgin Mary, the character she played in The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson, a devout Roman Catholic thought this of great significance when casting her. [della Cava, 2004] In interviews, she has defended The Passion against allegations of antisemitism, saying that the high priest Caiaphas is portrayed not as a representative of the Jewish people, but as a leader of the establishment, adding that throughout history, people with revolutionary ideas have always been persecuted by the elite.

Selected Filmography

  • "Balanţa" ("The Oak") - 1992
  • "Ulysses' Gaze " - 1995, playing opposite Harvey Keitel as Ulysses's wife
  • "Siódmy pokój" ("The Seventh Room") - 1995, in the starring role as Edith Stein
  • "Omul zilei" ("Man of the Day") - 1997
  • "The Passion of the Christ" - 2004

She has been married twice. Maia has 3 children: Tudor Aaron, Eva Leea Cabiria and Ana Isadora.

External links


Last updated: 05-06-2005 14:44:59