Actress and producer Roma Downey has had the distinct honor of casting the epic role of Jesus of Nazareth on three separate occasions: for the historic “The Bible” series, for the feature film “Son of God” and for the remake of “Ben-Hur.”
For each of these projects, Downey said that she was “deeply invested” in her own heart, as Jesus’ story has always meant a lot to her. She explained the following in a piece for “Lightworkers” this week: “I have loved Jesus my whole life.”
Downey decided to catch up with Diogo Morgado, who played Jesus in “Son of God,” Juan Pablo Di Pace, who portrayed Christ in “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” and Rodrigo Santoro, who took on the iconic role in “Ben-Hur,” to ask how playing Jesus impacted their lives — and their responses are fascinating:
DIOGO MORGADO: I think before playing Jesus, I was myself a bit disconnected from my own spirituality. Having to go back to the Bible and fully immerse myself in the gospels, and knowing what Jesus did for us—the way he loved us and how God gave us His only son to wash away our sins—brought me back to a different sense of awareness of the world. People do react differently to me since portraying Jesus. I´ve been working as an actor for 20 years now but this did not feel like just a job. This was something beyond special, something unique.
JUAN PABLO DI PACE: Playing Jesus was certainly the most inspired and challenging role I ever played, and in turn, the most fulfilling. I remember the days on set as the most profound in my career simply because it felt like I had been given this beautiful gift to look through Jesus’s eyes. I felt privileged to tell his story and make him real, which was the most important thing to me, his humanity.
RODRIGO SANTORO: It is really hard to measure how much the experience of playing Jesus has transformed me. I would say that it not only changed me but made me question a lot of things about myself and others. It is impossible to go through playing Jesus without being deeply touched by his love, his heart. Yes, people reacted much more emotionally to this role. Even to me, when I think about it, I cannot compare to any other role I have played before. Playing Jesus is at the same time the biggest challenge and the biggest gift I ever received. I will always be grateful for this unique experience.
The actors had plenty more to say about their iconic roles. Read more about their experience here.