Paloma Baeza plays Mary Magdalene
The five and a half weeks that Paloma Baeza spent in Morocco playing Mary Magdalene were among the most gruelling of her career, for a variety of reasons.
Paloma leapt at the chance to play the woman who may have been closer to Jesus than anyone else.
"In a different life these two would have been the perfect couple, they understand each other perfectly, but it can't happen here," she explains.
"Mary Magdalene is the only one that is completely loyal and has complete faith in Jesus, even when the others are questioning him. Each of the disciples has a crisis of confidence. They are worried about the challenges he is making to the authority of the High Priests. Then when he tells them his fate, that he is going to die, this throws them even more into questioning him," she continues.
"Even though the situation is really taxing for Mary Magdalene, she does not question his motives, she remains loyal - she believes that the path he is following is the right one."
Paloma was intrigued by the fact that, in this version of the drama, Mary Magdalene is portrayed for the first time not as a prostitute but as a widow who is supporting Jesus, probably financially as well as spiritually.
"There is a sense that she understands his suffering because she has suffered herself. She is a widow who finds a purpose in her life and Jesus and his cause is it. It's her life," she says. "As a result she feels he is her soul mate."
Bringing the character to life, however, was demanding and, at times, draining. "I was there for five and a half weeks. There were days when you got back to the hotel and you felt as if you had been battered physically and emotionally," says the actress. "There was an undertone, even when we were doing the happier material; there was a sense of sadness."
The high emotions reflected the close bond that was formed between the cast, in particular the one Paloma formed with Joseph Mawle, who played Jesus. "Watching the crucifixion was hard because they were in pain. And it was very stressful and hot," she says.
The process was made even harder by the fact Paloma was separated from her two young children, Eva and Milo, for the first time.
"It was a long time to be away from home, especially with two young kids. My daughter Eva was only six months and Milo was four. I had never been away from them for that long before," she says. "I could never get back because I never had more than two days off. And my partner did not want to come out to Morocco. It was a bad journey with children that young."
Paloma stayed in contact online every day. "Thank goodness for iChat, I was on the video every night," says the actress. "When I got back I was expecting that Eva would not know me and she didn't. She burst into tears looking around for her dad. I expected it to last for longer but thankfully it only lasted for a day," she admits. "I could never do what I did again."
If it had not been for the companionship of the rest of The Passion cast and crew, she admits she might not have survived the experience.
"I was so grateful that people were nice. If it had been a bad atmosphere it would have been dreadful. When you are away for that length of time you need a good atmosphere and it was a mellow feeling out in Ouarzazate," she says.
"Despite what we were doing!"