Jonathan Roumie, a devout Roman Catholic, tells the Irish Times he was inspired in his portrayal of Jesus in the television series The Chosen by Pope Francis’s vision of mercy.
“My mother is Roman Catholic—she’s from Ireland—and my father is from Egypt, and his father is from Syria. I was raised Greek Orthodox, baptized Greek Orthodox, but later transitioned to Roman Catholic,” said Roumie in an interview with National Catholic Register. “For me, as a Christian, if I really am practicing my faith, God is part of my existence in everything that I do.”
On August 10, Roumie and American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, director and co-writer of The Chosen and an evangelical Christian, met Pope Francis at the Vatican. Roumie described this in an Instagram post as the “honor of my spiritual life, and a childhood dream realized.”
The Chosen is a multiseason television series of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The first two seasons, with episodes viewed 160 million times to date, were produced through crowdfunding $20 million. Some 75,000 people took part in the crowdfunding for season one and 125,000 people for season two, 86 percent of whom had also contributed to season one.
The Irish Times describes the series as multiethnic and ecumenical, and reports consultants included Catholic priest Fr. David Guffey of the Congregation of Holy Cross; Doug Huffman, an Evangelical New Testament scholar; and Rabbi Jason Sobel, a Messianic Jew. The episodes were filmed on a set that is a replica of first-century Jerusalem, created in Utah by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As to his future as an actor, Roumie is “interested in doing projects that uplift the human spirit,” he told National Catholic Register. “I’m also very cognizant of the responsibility I have, now, playing this role of Jesus.”
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