The Chosen cast on bringing Jesus and his disciples to life

Jonathan Roumie as Jesus in The Chosen.(Photo: Mike Kubeisy/Lionsgate)

Ground-breaking historical drama The Chosen tells the story of Jesus' life and his teachings. It has gained commercial success across various streaming platforms and is one of the most watched shows in the world.

Christian Today met with the cast recently to hear about the challenges of filming, the impact the series has had on fans, and what they hope viewers will take away from season four.

What has playing the role of Jesus taught you about effective leadership?

Jonathan Roumie (JR): I think it takes a lot of strength, humility and courage to be an effective leader.

What do you admire most about Jesus' ministry?

JR: I think how he cared for the most disenfranchised and marginalised at a time in society where it wasn't really en vogue, especially for a rabbi of his stature to do. How he treated people was remarkable.

What do you hope viewers will take away from this season?

JR: I think ultimately if they entrust everything to God, no matter how difficult life can get, that He will take care of them, that He has them in the palm of his hand at all times and to just surrender whatever they are struggling with to Christ.

Noah James (NJ): No matter how dark things get, no matter how challenging, there is still a way forward.

Shahar Isaac (SI): Every season is so different, I almost don't want to have control of what they take away, because every season and every scene has played so differently to different people. I think the one thing I would say is each person and how they are experiencing the show is part of their personal journey. It's a clean slate for them to find whatever they find.

Elizabeth Tabish (ET), you studied Theatre and Screen Studies at University. In your opinion how is The Chosen different to other screen depictions of biblical stories?

ET: I think it's such a modern, fresh approach to these stories that are over two thousand years old. It's been depicted, I think, in beautiful ways over the decades through cinema and theatre. There is Jesus Christ Superstar and Jesus of Nazareth to name a few. But I think this version is different because it's a TV show. We have so much time to really get in depth with all of these characters and understand their stories, where they came from before they met Jesus, how they are changed by him and their relationships. Usually film or theatre does not get the time to do all of that and I think because of it being a TV show, we do, which is wonderful.

What are your thoughts and feelings on season four?

ET: It's a challenging season emotionally, a lot of surprising and shocking events occur, leaving the group to process them in their own ways. I think there are some moments where Jesus even feels alone this season. There is a lot of grieving, but then also a lot of joy, peace and purpose. It's a very bittersweet season.

What responses have you had from fans from the last three seasons?

Paras Patel (PP): It's been a beautifully overwhelming response, but that just goes to show what The Chosen is doing around the world. It's really impacting people. The amount of love and support that we get is unreal and we find that people really resonate with the message of the show. Every message I get really moves me because it shows the impact the series is having on the individual and I can tell that they are really growing from that.

ET: It's also from so many different countries. We are making this in Texas and in Utah but it's resonating with people from all cultures. It's really special I think.

Paras, you play Matthew the former tax collector. Describe the transition process of your character from tax collector to follower of Jesus.

PP: It's been just fantastic to be a part of. In hindsight you can see the journey that Matthew has taken, and I didn't realise in portraying him from season to season how dynamic he is and how strong he has become. To go from someone that didn't see their own self-worth to now feeling like they have a place in this world and to be one of the most important, influential scribes in history, has been awesome to be a part of.

What has been your favourite story to film out of the last three seasons?

NJ: Mine was the scene of walking on water because it really did feel like as a group we went into this totally crazy scenario. It felt like we were back in time but we were all going through it together. We were all soaking wet from the sprinklers, we were freezing, eating lunch at 1am with our stomachs churning and then we would get back in the boat together. It was a bonding experience.

SI: The friction between us and Matthew in the first season or two sticks out in my mind. Simon Peter and the others were always together on each other's side and we had this antagonist and that was always fun. I enjoyed seeing Matthew's development and watching how he came and joined the group and started to feel comfortable around the group. We began to feel empathy for Matthew as he drew closer to us. Whenever I think about Simon Peter walking to the tax booth to pay Matthew his debt, I always think about how far they have come in their relationship.

Season four is out now. Find out more about the show here.