|Maia Morgenstern in Durres International Film at the Opening Ceremony 2009.|
Born in Bucharest, in a Jewish family, she graduated from the Film and Theatre Academy of Bucharest in 1985. She then played at the youth theater (Teatrul Tineretului) in Piatra Neamţ until 1988, and at the Teatrul Evreiesc de Stat (State Jewish Theatre) in Bucharest 1988-1990. From 1990–1998 she was a member of the company of the National Theatre in Bucharest, and since 1998 of Teatrul Bulandra, also in Bucharest; in addition, she continues to act at the State Jewish Theatre and other Bucharest theaters and elsewhere in Romania. Among her notable stage roles in recent years, in a Romanian-language production of The Blue Angel (Îngerul Albastru in Romanian) at Bucharest's Odeon Theater, in 2001-2 she played (to great critical acclaim) Lola Lola, the character made famous by Marlene Dietrich. At the same time, she was also playing the role of Kathleen Hogan in a Romanian-language production of Israel Horovitz's Park Your Car in Harvard Yard at the State Jewish Theater. Morgenstern has appeared in numerous films, primarily in Hungarian and Romanian-language roles. In The Passion of the Christ, she performs a role in Aramaic, but like the other actors in the cast of that film, she simply memorized her lines phonetically. Her surname Morgenstern means "Morning Star", a title of the Virgin Mary, the character she played in The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson, a devout Traditionalist Catholic, thought this of great significance when casting her. In interviews, she has defended The Passion against allegations of antisemitism, saying that the high priest Caiaphas is portrayed not as a representative of the Jewish people, but as a leader of the establishment, adding that "Authorities throughout history have persecuted individuals with revolutionary ideas".She has won several major awards as an actress:
• Best Actress for: Cei care platesc cu viaţa ("Those who pay with their lives", 1991), Romanian Filmmakers Union
• UNITER (Romanian theater association) Lucia Sturdza Bulandra Prize (1990) for her stage role as Medea in Trilogia antică (Ancient Trilogy), directed by Andrei Şerban.
• Best Actress for: Balanţa (1992), European Film Awards
• Best Actress for: Balanţa (1992), Cinéma Tout Ecran (Geneva Film Festival)
• Best Actress for: Balanţa (1992), Romanian Filmmakers Union
• UNITER best actress award (1993), for her role in Ghetto at the Romanian National Theatre.
• UNITER (1995) award for her performance in the stage production of Lola Blau.
• Best Film Actress for: The Passion of the Christ (2004), Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards (EMMA Awards), UK.