When I found out I would be
playing Jesus, I was both excited and completely overwhelmed. How can I possibly play a more significant role? It’s probably ruined me for life! But unlike any other character I’ve played, I love and believe in everything that this
character stands for. So I’m seeing the world from a lens that isn’t darkened by judgment and my views seem limitless. This was the ultimate experience
as an actor.
Preparing for the role.
As soon as I found out, I called my friend who is my mentor and spiritual guru. I called him specifically because I think of him as a person who reminds me of Jesus. I’m not saying he is a prophet, but to me as a person he has Jesus’s qualities. I was so heavily influenced by him even before I got the part. So for me to have the opportunity to tell this story is like a dream come true.
Hardest part of the filming.
I looked at a lot of videos on the Internet about crucifixion and what happens to the human body, literally in a physical sense. How fast does it fall apart? How much blood does one lose? How do you breathe when you’re on a crucifix? It was a lot of stuff that I had to think of technically and then be emotionally available for the truth of the moment. It was incredibly difficult.
Describe the film in short.
This film is for everybody because
Jesus never excluded anybody. It’s also very entertaining; it’s a thriller about someone who challenged the system. It’s so timely and inspiring. This story is a celebration for our humanity and it’s beauty. That is what Jesus was trying to show us even if you are not religious.
Well, it’s Herod; it’s not really the big guy! Being a part of it was a pleasure. Bill O’Reilly wanted to update these stories, make them contemporary, give them intrigue and lay out the political ramifications of what was happening at the time. It’s a good way to tell a story. It was a magnificent experience. Herod was just a guy who had to do some despicable things to maintain a balance of power and I do think, I did something special for Herod. We will see if anybody else agrees!
You’re religious. Did this strike a chord?
I’m a religious person. I’m not a fundamentalist. I was raised as a Christian Scientist. So I’m a devoted student of the Christian principles and I carry a great sense of faith and reassurance in that relationship. My understanding of the film in terms of its comparison to other storytellings of this particular story is kind of a journeyman’s understanding.
Take away from the film.
I think it’s for people who are curious. It was such a vital time in terms of geography meeting political concerns and what was happening in that part of the world. It was a transitional period. And of course, it was a ripe time for a redemptive act from a human being, being Christ. That was an extraordinary thing. I mean this man born in a very humble place changed the world through peaceful means.
Working with the ensemble cast…
It was great! I had never worked with the director Chris Menual before. It was a first time experience. I really enjoyed working with him. He works like me, so we didn’t spend a lot of time discussing things. If I needed a dagger under my bed it was there. No questions asked. And the Director of Photography is a great storyteller himself, so the evenings while shooting were filled with really interesting discussions and conversations and storytelling. There was a big international cast so it was really fun.
Premiers April 3, at 8 pm on
National Geographic Channel.