Keisha Castle-Hughes has signed up for the lead as the Virgin Mary in New Line's Nativity, reports Variety. The 15-year-old, who toplined 2003's Whale Rider, will portray Mary over the two-year period leading up to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are producing Nativity, and Catherine Hardwicke is directing Mike Rich's script. Castle-Hughes, a native of Australia who moved to New Zealand when she was four, starred last year as the Queen of Naboo in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Nativity is being fast-tracked, with shooting to begin in May in Italy and Morocco; aim is to release the film the first weekend of December.