Lana Wood, David Gries add to the experience, eclectic presence of ‘The Christ Slayer’ cast

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As principals’ casting nears completion for Collective Development Incorporated’s final installment in ‘The Quest Trilogy,’ there is an obvious, unyielding and uncompromising element to this project, as is the trademark of every film produced.
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  When principal photography begins March 12th in the desert, dunes and rocky hills of the Yuma, Arizona, vicinity (standing in again for ancient Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem), ‘The Christ Slayer’ will feature a powerful, eclectic mosaic of characters. A talented cast, fashioned around the stunning vistas of southwest Arizona to tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth in his final weeks of life on earth, has been the successful formula for the first two films in the trilogy.

‘Forty Nights,’ the story of Jesus’ 40 nights in the wilderness, which is currently being digitally remastered for an April nationwide release by Bridgestone Multimedia Group (BMG), will be followed this fall, in time for the Christmas season, by ‘Chasing the Star,’ the story of the three Magi (Wisemen) and their perilous journey following the Star of Bethlehem in search of the Messiah’s birth.

Collective Development Inc. CEO, DJ Perry (who plays Jesus in ‘Forty Nights’ and ‘The Christ Slayer’), announced today that well-known Hollywood family icon Lana Wood (younger sister of the late Natalie Wood) and the multi-talented stage and screen actor David Gries of Grand Rapids, Mich., have joined the cast for key supporting roles.Ms. Wood, whose career has spanned seven decades, made her film ‘debut’ in 1947’s ‘Driftwood’ as an infant (although her scenes were cut). She went on to play in several films with her ‘heartrob’ sister Natalie (who tragically drowned in 1981), most notably 1956’s ‘The Searchers,’ with John Wayne, in which Lana played a younger version of her sister’s character.

Ms. Wood, born Svetlana Gurdin in California to Ukranian/Russian immigrants, started making a mark of her own on the small screen. Having performed in more than 100 films and TV shows/series to date, she was seen by millions on such iconic shows as ‘The Real McCoys,’ ‘Bonanza,’ ‘Fantasy Island,’ ‘Starsky and Hutch,’ ‘Mission: Impossible’ and ‘The Wild, Wild West.’

But it was being cast as a series recurring in 1966 as ‘hash-slinging’ Sandy Webber, the girl ‘from the wrong side of the tracks,’ in the racy (for its period) prime-time soap, ‘Peyton Place,’ that propelled Ms. Wood’s career.

Her 1971 turn as femme fatale ‘Plenty O’ Toole’ opposite Sean Connery (James Bond) in ‘Diamonds Are Forever,’ cemented Ms. Wood’s viability on the big screen and afforded her an acting persona of her own to audiences.

‘The Christ Slayer’ will be Ms. Wood’s sixth CDI-associated film since coming out of ‘retirement’ in 2009.

She will play ‘Sabina,’ the aunt of lead character ‘Longinus’ (Carl Weyant) in the powerful, poignant and insightful third act.

A longtime member of CDI’s production and post-production team, David Gries is an ‘actor’s actor,’ bringing nuanced performances, tailored with tireless work ethic, to each character he brings to the screen.

Mr. Gries, who will be seen in CDI’s recently filmed 1870’s faith-based drama/thriller, ‘Wild Faith,’ releasing later this year, looks at playing his character in ‘The Christ Slayer,’ as ‘an honor.’ Not to mention he considers the role of ‘Crispus,’ a Roman soldier, to be both his most mentally and physically challenging role to date.

“I find Crispus to be a very sweet and a kindred spirit to those around him,” explained Gries. “He stands up for his friends, but doesn’t excessively rock the boat. His journey is timely and poignant, but doing right by his duty as a soldier puts him into conflict, questioning whether or not he’s on the right

side.”
For Gries, who explains he’s never pushed himself so hard for a character, the physical demands of

the Crispus role are used as a tool to enhance the mental preparation. “I’m enjoying the transformation of my body to play a soldier,” he said, “While at the same time it’s helping me mentally prepare for this character when we begin shooting in the desert.”

Mr. Gries, an Associate Producer with CDI, who was not in the first two installments of the trilogy as an actor, says he’s excited to get back on the screen with all the artists associated with production.

“Good things happen because of hard work, perseverance, honor and loyalty,” said Gries.

He concluded, “That’s what I like about CDI. It is a group of professionals who do what it takes to be the best they can, individually, and as a team (a ‘Tribe’ is CDI’s term of endearment for their group of artists in front of and behind the camera), to put great stories in all genres on the screen for audiences worldwide.”

‘The Christ Slayer’ will be directed by Nathaniel Nose, the newest member of the Tribe, and it will release in 2018.

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