Why Roma Downey cast Satan out of her Bible movie, Son of God
IT was a controversy which saw Roma Downey at the centre of a battle between good and evil.
Now the Londonderry actress has decided to banish Satan from her upcoming film after accusations the actor playing him in a previous production bore too much of a resemblance to Barack Obama.
Roma and her husband Mark Burnett are preparing for the release of the Son Of God movie which the LA power couple both produced.
The movie is based on their hit television series, The Bible which drew in millions of viewers across the world last year.
Despite its commercial success, the couple had to fend off criticism over why an actor who looked like the US President had been cast in the evil role.
Controversy reigned because the Emmy-nominated History Channel mini-series featured Mohamen Mehdi Ouzanni, who looks like Obama.
So now they have decided to cut Satan out of the film version altogether.
The Bible had 10 hours of running material which has now been condensed into two hours for Son Of God – and the Devil has been left on the cutting room floor.
On the decision to remove Satan from the production, which will be released later this month, US-based star Roma said she wanted the focus of the work to be on Jesus, not Satan.
"Someone made a comment that the actor who played the Devil vaguely resembled our President, and suddenly the media went nuts," Roma said.
"The next day, when I was sure everyone would only be talking about Jesus, they were talking about Satan instead."
Roma – who was born in the Bogside and has become one of Northern Ireland's richest people – plays Jesus' mother in the movie.
"For our movie Son Of God I wanted all of the focus to be on Jesus... so we cast Satan out," said the former Thornhill College pupil.
"It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the Devil is on the cutting room floor."
In a December interview with the Belfast Telegraph, from her Malibu mansion, the 53-year-old Touched By An Angel star said she will never forget her Derry roots.
And on the possibility of making a film back home, she added: "I would never say never to that. I hold Ireland very dear to my heart.
"As they say, you can take the girl out of Ireland, but never the other way around."