Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a roundtable with two of the main stars of the film Son of God, Roma Downey (who portrayed Mary, Jesus’s mother) and Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado (who had the honor of title role — Jesus).
Son of God, the movie, is a two-hour film adaptation of the life of Christ that was developed after the mini-series “The Bible” aired on the History Channel last year and was met with rave reviews. “The Bible” was also executive-produced by Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett, and also starred Morgado as Jesus. Son of God is the first major motion picture on the complete life of Jesus Christ in almost 50 years.
Time for our interview was short but we could easily see the passion pouring from both Morgado and Downey about the movie, its meaning and their parts in the film. Morgado shared that he had never seen a Jesus portrayed in the movies in a way that resembled who he knew Christ to be and he wanted to bring a Jesus that people could relate to.
“I never actually saw a portraying of Jesus according to what I believe in terms of someone that I can actually connect [with] in terms of proximity – someone being really close . . . like someone from my family, resembling someone in a good an positive way. So, that was one of my rational aspects of aiming for where I wanted to go – a vague intention. Putting it into action is a completely different thing,” said Morgado, who followed by telling about his visit to Jerusalem to research the places where Jesus walked and what a profound experience it was for him. Upon seeing a father and child praying, he realized what an impact this movie would make on this child’s life and lives around the world. Having the whole life of Jesus on screen for the first time in fifty years would touch this child even more than his father.
“I would need to be a channel of love and connect with the story as it is . . . a story of love from God to us, Jesus to us,” adds Morgado when discussing how he drew his inspiration for the movie.
Downey shared several things about the movie as a producer as well as actor. In answering a question about prescreening it with others around the country, Roma says, “To be able to watch it in community, to see this sweeping cinematic presentation, this larger than life story on the big screen — it’s very powerful and people have been obviously moved. The end credits roll with the CeeLo Green version of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ playing over them and it’s not often an audience stays in their seat through the credits and I think people are taking a moment to breathe and process what they’ve just experienced.”
“On one hand, the movie is a big epic sweeping story that just draws you in. Part of our desire was to present it in a gritty and authentic way that would show you the political context of the time, the historical context of the time so that it’s dark and dangerous. It plays out a little bit like a political thriller with the Romans led by Pontius Pilate and the temple authorities led by Ciaphus and the disciples led by Jesus and they all collide in Jerusalem with just a few days to Passover. You will notice as the movie progresses that the editing speed picks up as the intensity [does] and there’s a moment where you are aware of this sort of dry brush they are just about to light a match to and the whole thing goes up in flames. It is this big epic movie and [yet] it’s this deeply personal story that still very intimate and you get an opportunity to know Jesus and fall in love with Jesus.”
Downey also shared their hopes that this movie would make it easy for others to invite friends and introduce them to the Bible, possibly for the first time. They got the PG-13 rating so families would come. Since The Bible series aired and the prescreenings of Son of God occurred around the country, they are already seeing that these efforts are the beginning of a bigger conversation about faith and the place of God in our lives, about our relationship with Jesus. The best part about this country is that if someone has questions, there’s not far you have to go with churches on every corner.
After the interview, when we were gathering for the picture, Downey shared with me as a “mom-blogger” what an incredible experience it had been to play the mother of Jesus.
The film was released in theaters Friday, February 28 at which time Christian organizations around the country bought out entire multi-plex theaters and showed the movie on every screen for a night. Bible study material has been created to use the movie to share the gospel of Christ and to follow a series studying the word of God with movie clips and discussion materials to enhance each presentation.
Here in the trailer you can see some of the action for yourself: