Hollywood has often been criticised for the lack of diversity found in movie castings. This is why "Risen" star Joseph Fiennes is extremely proud that the faith-based film did not go the traditional route and cast a Caucasian Jesus Christ.
The role of Jesus went to 47-year-old New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis. "No, he's not Caucasian. I mean, there's such a furore with the Oscars — and I'm not going to wade into any of that — but just in terms of casting, yes this is a big step forward just in terms of getting the casting right and moving away from the golden, blue-eyed boy and delivering the right type of casting," Fiennes told Metro. "It's brilliant. I'm really proud of that."
Curtis, who has played villains in movies such as "Live Free or Die Hard" and "The Last Airbender," was surprised when the role was first offered to him, given his age and skin complexion.
"Jesus was crucified by age 33 and I'm in my late 40s. And when you look at my work, what makes you think that I'm right for this role," he said, according to Scout. "It was a miracle! I just thought I wasn't fair complexioned enough to get the role and I needed blue eyes."
It was a role that Curtis used to dream of portraying since he grew up a deeply religious man. "I was a devout Catholic as a child and I was an altar boy and served mass and I did the whole thing and had the crucifix next to my bed, everything," he shared. "So when I became an actor and the question would arise, 'What roles do you want to play?' I'd say, 'Jesus', and it had become a running joke."
In the film, Fiennes plays Roman soldier Clavius, who has been ordered to disprove that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after three days. "Harry Potter" alum Tom Felton plays his aide Lucius.