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Fox Unleashes New Jesus Flick for Christians: 'Son of God'

Photo of John Anderson By John Anderson | Thompson on Hollywood February 27, 2014 at 4:20PM

Jesus did not chase the money changers out of the temple yesterday. But his producers– Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (TV's "The Bible") -- did ring the closing bell at one of New York’s temples of money yesterday afternoon. Needless to say, the NASDAQ closed up.
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'Son Of God'
'Son Of God'

Jesus did not chase the money changers out of the temple yesterday. But his producers– Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (TV's "The Bible") -- did ring the closing bell at one of New York’s temples of money yesterday afternoon. Needless to say, the NASDAQ closed up.

Jesus himself – sorry, we mean Diogo Morgado, Portuguese soap actor and star of the Burnett-Roma produced “Son of God” which Twentieth Century Fox opens Friday – is helping to bring the greatest story ever told back to theaters for the first time since director Mel Gibson flogged Jim Caviezel in “The Passion of the Christ" (2004). Unlike “Passion,” Morgado’s movie does not subject his Jesus to endless scourging, or the Jews to libelous accusations. But like Gibson and Caviezel, Morgado is a true believer, and found his Jesus during a trip to Israel, a journey that “actually that changed my approach to the role.”

“I realized,” Morgado said, “that there wouldn’t be a book or an acting class that could teach me how to do this. It had to be done by heart. And I had to stay away from the kind of rationality an actor usually employs."

He said his first instinct was to start doing research, reading and watching everything he could. But in Jerusalem he went to the Wall, where he saw a father and a son, “maybe 10. They were praying when I got there and I stood there for two and a half hours reading and they prayed the whole time I was there. A 10-year-old praying for two hours next to the wall made me realize the story is bigger than I ever thought.”

One of the more daunting questions he’s gotten, he said, is about how daunting it is to play Jesus Christ.

“Everyone asks me,” he said with a laugh. “It’s so hard to describe it. First of all there’s the responsibility, and then there’s the challenge of taking something like this and doing it in a different way than has been portrayed before. It’s been 50 years since the life of Jesus was on screen,” he said, referring to “The Greatest Story Ever Told (“The Passion” only concerned Jesus's last hours). “It’s really super overwhelming. There are not even words to describe it. At some point, I had to stop thinking about it.”

This article is related to: Son Of God, Interviews , Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.