Mary Magdalene is one of the first characters to come onto the scene in the hit Bible series “The Chosen.” Her character’s grit and vulnerability has not only impacted viewers, but the actor who portrays the disciple as well.
Elizabeth Tabish, 36, recently told CBN’s Faithwire her role in the series, a biblical and historical drama created by Christian filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, has profoundly impacted her own understanding of Jesus.
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“Living with these scenes and living with the words of these scenes … I’m thinking about it all day long,” she explained. “I’m thinking about the character, the goal for the character, of what they’re wanting in the scene. … And it starts seeping into my own sort of, like, consciousness. It becomes sort of an ongoing meditation almost on these themes.”
“That influences you,” the actor continued. “When you’re living with it for so long, you start almost thinking that [way], which I think is a gift when you’re working on shows like [‘The Chosen’], because I’m constantly thinking about Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus and that shifts into my love for Jesus.”
Tabish also recently began shooting scenes for “The Shift,” a sci-fi, feature-length film loosely based on the Old Testament book of Job. While many of the plot details have yet to be revealed, the Angel Studios movie follows a man named Kevin Granger as he journeys “through the multiverse back to what matters most to him,” according to writer and director Brock Heasley.
The film, slated for release in late 2023, also features Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings,” “Stranger Things”), Kristoffer Polaha (“Wonder Woman 1984”), Neal McDonough (“Band of Brothers”), as well as Tabish’s “Chosen” co-stars Paras Patel and Jorden Walker Ross.
Thinking about her work for “The Shift,” in which she plays Molly, the wife of Kevin Granger, Tabish said she feels “lucky that I get to live in those mental spaces with roles that are really life-affirming and hopeful.”
Tabish, who told CBN’s Faithwire last year that, though once skeptical, she is aware now more than ever that “God’s love is real,” was drawn to the honesty and authenticity of “The Shift.” So many faith-based films, she said, give the impression that life is much easier after salvation — but that is not always the case. In fact, in John 16:33, Jesus promises believers will face trials and persecution in this life.
“The reality is it gets harder, because you’re still living in this world and you’re clinging to values and believing in values that are unseeable,” she said. “It’s this intangible thing that you know in your heart and to act those things out is difficult when, yes, the entire world is like, ‘Do the easy thing, do the cheap thing, do the thing that gives you a shortcut to what is perceived as maybe the good life,’ but it’s devoid of joy sometimes, because it’s also devoid of the struggle.”
“I think the struggle is what makes us who we are,” Tabish added. “I think it’s the struggle that creates stronger faith, which is exactly the theme in season three of ‘The Chosen,’ the last two episodes. It is that — Jesus creating the storm to strengthen your faith, and that’s an interesting concept and I think it’s a challenging one, too, and a little truer to real life experience.”
She sees “The Shift” — and her work on “The Chosen” — as evidence Christian entertainment is moving toward “terrain that is a little more honest, which means that it’s a little edgier and deals with more raw emotions and struggles and trials and I think that’s the thing people are connecting to” because the stories of Scripture, she added, “challenge anyone’s notion of reality, let alone morality.”
“These stories are meant to disrupt and really challenge,” Tabish said.
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