"Son of God" won't be giving the devil his due — or rather, his screen time.
To avoid another controversy about the character of Satan bearing a physical resemblance to President Obama in the upcoming religious film, the filmmakers have gone out of their way to edit the devil's scenes out of "Son of God," which is based on the TV miniseries "The Bible."
"It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting-room floor," producer Roma Downey told the Hollywood Reporter. "This is now a movie about Jesus, the son of God, and the devil gets no more screen time."
"Son of God," which opens Feb. 28 from 20th Century Fox, is a two-hour film largely culled from the 10-hour miniseries, which originally aired on the History Channel last year.
"The Bible" was a huge ratings hit, and it attracted further attention in March when a number of viewers, including conservative pundit Glenn Beck, noticed a resemblance between Obama and Mohamen Mehdi Ouzaani, the actor who plays Satan in the miniseries.
In light of the popularity of "The Bible" among conservative Christians, as well as Obama's relative unpopularity with the same demographic, some viewers wondered whether the film was making a political statement via its casting. In response, the History Channel issued a statement denying any link between Obama and Satan.
"History Channel has the highest respect for President Obama," the statement said. "It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. History's 'The Bible' is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history."
Downey and husband Mark Burnett, who served as executive producers on the series, also released a statement at that time calling the controversy "utter nonsense."
"The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics — including satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our president."
This time they're seeking to avoid a similar frenzy. "Someone made a comment that the actor who played the devil vaguely resembled our president, and suddenly the media went nuts," Downey said. For the movie version she said, "I wanted all of the focus to be on Jesus."