Casting director dies at 71

American casting director Shaila Rubin, who worked on several notable U.S. productions shot in Italy, including “The Passion of the Christ,” and also on big local pics such as Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful,” died of cancer Friday in Rome. She was 71.

Rubin was nominated (with Jeremy Zimmerman) for an Emmy for 1994 telepic “Jacob,” produced by Turner Network Television as part of its “The Bible” series.

A New Jersey native, Rubin was a literature graduate of Bennington College.

Subsequently she attended both the Mannes School of Music and the Actors’ Studio in New York.

She broke into showbiz in the mid-’50s as a film editor for CBS News in New York. After a stint at Esquire, she became a freelance photographer, working on assignment for several magazines in Europe.

In Rome, Rubin worked as dialogue coach on a number of Hollywood blockbusters during the 1960s, including Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Cleopatra,” and as assistant director on Italian films such as Francesco Maselli’s “Time of Indifference.”

During the early 1990s — when U.S. productions began returning to Rome’s Cinecitta Studios after a long hiatus — she launched European Casting Service. It rapidly became a key talent resource for international productions shooting in Italy, as well as casting and co-producing some local movies.

Rubin’s casting credits include “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Heaven,” in which she had a cameo as a pharmacist, and, most recently, “The Nativity Story.”

Funeral was held Monday in Rome’s English Cemetery. No information about survivors was immediately available.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more