HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Casting Jesus: A look at actors who have played the Son of God in movies

AP  New York , March 07, 2014
First Published: 10:54 IST(7/3/2014) | Last Updated: 12:03 IST(7/3/2014)

Casting Jesus for the silver screen has always been tricky. Directors must balance the actor's ability to project a sense of both divinity and humanity. They also need to sell tickets, and thus have often cast handsome, leading-man types.

In the new movie Son of God, Jesus is played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, whose appearance has been compared to Brad Pitt and a young Marlon Brando, and who has inspired a Twitter hashtag of Hot Jesus.

Diogo Morgado in a scene from then movie Son of God. (AP photo)
Box office is booming: Son of God, which was made from footage shot for the History channel miniseries The Bible, came in a close second last weekend to the latest Liam Neeson action blockbuster, and beat out the popular Lego movie.

Here are some of the actors who have played Jesus over the decades:

HB Warner, The King of Kings, director Cecil B. DeMille, 1927: This famous silent movie was in black and white, but the final scene, the Resurrection, was in Technicolor.

HB Warner, Willem Dafoe and Jim Caviezel essaying the role of Jesus Christ. (AP file photo)

Claude Heater, Ben-Hur, director William Wyler, 1959: Heater's face was not shown in the film; all we saw was the back of his head.

Jeffrey Hunter, King of Kings, director Nicholas Ray, 1961: This film was nicknamed 'I was a Teenage Jesus' because of Hunter's youthful teen-idol looks, but actually he was in his 30s.

Mary, played by Siobhan McKenna, greets Jesus, played by Jeffrey Hunter, in a scene from the film King of Kings, filmed on location in Spain and directed by Nicholas Ray. (AP file photo)

Max von Sydow, The Greatest Story Ever Told, director George Stevens, 1965: Director Stevens cast the admired Swedish actor as Jesus and surrounded him with Hollywood actors like John Wayne, who had one line: "Truly this man was the son of God."

A file photo of Max von Sydow as Jesus and John Wayne as the converted centurion in a scene from The Greatest Story Ever Told. (AP file photo)

Ted Neeley, Jesus Christ Superstar, director Norman Jewison, 1973: Neeley became the "rock star Jesus" as the star of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera on both stage and screen.

Producer-director Norman Jewison, left, and Ted Neeley during the filming of the movie version of the Rock Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, in Bethlehem, Israel. (AP file photo)

Victor Garber, Godspell, director David Greene, 1973: A musical retelling of the New Testament's Gospel of Matthew with a score by Stephen Schwartz.

Willem Dafoe, The Last Temptation of Christ, director Martin Scorsese, 1988: The film was one of the few to present a Jesus conflicted about his identity and vulnerable to earthly temptations.

Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ, director Mel Gibson, 2004: One of the most controversial movies ever made, due both to its graphic depiction of Jesus' crucifixion and to allegations of anti-Semitic content.

Diogo Morgado, Son of God, director Christopher Spencer, 2014.

Watch video: Son of God Movie - trailer
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