People magazine talked to Roma Downey, co-producer of the wildly popular miniseries The Bible, about her efforts to find just the right actor to play Jesus for the series on The History Channel. She said, “We actually were only six weeks away from beginning principal photography and we still had not cast the role of Jesus. To say that we were anxious is an understatement.”
Downey told People that she sent out a desperate email to her friends with the subject line “Looking for Jesus.” A friend suggested Diogo Morgado, a 33-year-old Portuguese television actor, and Downey was pleased with his taped audition but wasn’t sure how to connect with him. After contacting his agent, Downey found out Morgado just happened to be traveling in Los Angeles at that time.
“I think he will define this role for generations,” Downey says of Morgado. “He’s just a beautiful actor inside and out. This is going to make him a big star.”
Morgado himself seemed a little intimidated by the role at first, as he told E! News. “How can I do someone that everybody knows and everybody has an idea [of] in a different way? This is the most complete and complex role an actor can play. You can’t play Jesus, especially when a lot of other wonderful actors already did that. That was my hardest task, and I really hope people will connect with what I tried to achieve.”
The Bible will continue with episodes airing each Sunday through Easter on The History Channel.