Most Christians are familiar with the classical illustrations of Jesus. Here, Christ is portrayed as a tall, Caucasian, slightly handsome man with an air of serenity or contemplation. It is unlikely that these pictures actually resemble Jesus’ physical appearance, but for many, the images have become so ingrained within our faith that we can’t imagine Christ looking like anything else. As media evolved, the idea of a “hot” Jesus eventually migrated to the silver screen. With the recent release of Son of God, viewers are wondering how much significance should be given to Jesus looks, and whether biblical performance should be tied to physical appearance.
The Detroit News posed the same question in an interview with the film’s producers, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Surprisingly, both agreed that looks made up a very small part of the acting process,
“Downey won’t deny her Jesus is good-looking — not that she’d get very far with that — but explains she was seeking a subtle mix of qualities. ‘Someone with strength, presence, charisma, tenderness, kindness, compassion and natural humility,’ she says. ‘Someone who could be both a lion AND a lamb.’”
Downey also pointed out that a Latino actor was chosen to portray Jesus, which in of itself is a rare thing. Son of God features footage taken from the wildly popular The Bible miniseries, but focuses exclusively on the life of Christ. It is well known that Burnett and Downey are devout Christians, and the husband and wife see their latest project as an opportunity to introduce Jesus to millions of people around the world. Downey even told The Detroit News,
“I think people who don’t know Jesus will fall in love, and those who do know him will fall in love all over again.”
Son of God stars Diogo Morgado as Jesus and Downey herself as the Virgin Mary.