blog » March 1, 2016 by Donna John

Nicole DeAvilla Interviews Cyrus Nowrasteh, Director of "The Young Messiah!" by Donna John

7 years ago
Nicole DeAvilla Interviews Cyrus Nowrasteh, Director of "The Young Messiah!"

Ever wonder how child actors are found? What it would be like to work with your spouse on a movie? What is the funniest part about directing a film? 30Second Mom contributor Nicole DeAvilla interviewed Cyrus Nowrasteh, the director of the new film “The Young Messiah,” during a #30SecondMom Twitter chat. She not only asked him those questions, but lots more. So get ready on set and read on!

Q. What’s it like working with your spouse to make a movie?
It is incredible to work with one’s spouse. We basically can work/talk/share 24/7. Sometimes, often actually, we’ll disagree and argue, but it always pushes us to make it better for the other person. Also, it’s great to know there’s someone there who’s not going to quit on you or walk away. We’re bound by marriage – no one’s walking out.

Q. What was the most fun part of directing “The Young Messiah?”
There’s always funny moments on set. But the most fun for me is working with the children in the movie. Adam Greaves-Neal, who plays Jesus, Lois Ellington, who plays
young Salome, and Finn Ireland, who plays James. They were a delight, fun and adorable and serious and focused and, well, just kids! Very special kids and all very talented.

Q. What was the most difficult part about directing “The Young Messiah?”
A big-budget movie hanging on one’s shoulders is very pressure-filled. One can’t go over budget or over schedule, while at the same time trying creatively to make the best movie possible. It’s also tough when your lead is a child, because you’re limited in the amount of time you have to shoot with them. Four hours a day is all we had with the child who was carrying our movie! It’s very difficult, especially when you so want it to be great, and I as a director don’t want to move on until I know I have the scene, all the key moments and that they’re as good as I can make them.

Q. Is “The Young Messiah” suitable for family viewing and why?
The movie is rated PG-13, but it’s a very soft PG-13. There’s some violence, but not graphic. No sex, no bad language. MovieGuide told us they thought it should be PG. I’ve seen PG-13 movies that are really violent and filled with sex and bad language. NOT “The Young Messiah.” I believe that this movie is for the family. But ultimately, parents and moms must decide.

Q. Who plays young Jesus and how did you find him?
Adam Greaves-Neal plays young Jesus beautifully. We found him after a global search where we saw over 2,000 kids. Adam is from London, is Catholic and comes from a very grounded, beautiful family. He was a delight to work with. There’s this rare quality that actors have where they literally shine onscreen, your eye is drawn to them (i.e. the camera LOVES them). The camera loves Adam.

Q. How did you find the rest of the cast, especially the Holy Family?
The Holy Family was found through auditions. I wanted actors you hadn’t seen in too many other roles. They are all wonderful. Sara Lazzaro, who portrays Mary, was an off-screen reader for Joseph auditions that I watched on tape. I couldn’t see her but knew she could play the part. And she did!

Q. What’s it like watching your movie when it’s done? With an audience?
It’s an indescribable experience. Very rewarding. I’m inside the movie, yet outside watching it like anyone else. When I watch the movie I usually watch the audience, seeing people’s eyes, how they’re reacting, when they talk to one another. I literally re-experience the movie through the audience I watch it with. When they’re moved, I am, too. It’s amazing.

Q. When can we see “The Young Messiah?”
The movie opens nationwide at a theater near you on March 11, 2016! Take the whole family!

Q. Where can we find the trailer for “The Young Messiah?”
The trailer can found online at @youngmessiahMOV or at or at Once you find the trailer, be sure to go see the full movie with friends and family.

The 30Second Mom community couldn’t get enough of Cyrus and “The Young Messiah” – and he was happy to answer their questions and comments!

@j_mostrom: We need more of these movies!
@CyrusNowrasteh: I believe it’s for the whole family. A faith-affirming and family-affirming story.
@4jlessad: I agree! It would be welcome for us at church for Sunday school, VBS and youth group!

@GinaValley: Why is this an important film for parents to take their children to see?
@CyrusNowrasteh: Many pastors have said it’s difficult to keep kids into religion. He thinks this movie helps a lot! Young people connect with young Jesus in “The Young Messiah.” He’s not just an icon on a cross – he’s accessible, a kid!

@CorreyHope: How is this movie different from the others?
@CyrusNowrasteh: There’s NEVER been a movie about Jesus as a child. It’s magical! It’s the perfect Easter Sunday movie!

Amazing insights into this must-see film! Follow @CyrusNowrasteh and @youngmessiahmov and like the movie on Facebook here!

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