As an actor when you receive the script and try to assume the role you have been given, I’d imagine there is no taller task than to attempt to play the role of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life, came here to be with us and experience as we experience, and ultimately died on the Cross in our place. He became sin to make us righteous in God’s eyes. He is Savior to the world for you and for I. These are obviously impossible shoes to fill, so one can only put their best foot forward in the acting business. Here is a top 20 countdown of the actors that have attempted to portray Jesus Christ throughout the course of film history. Also included is what movie they were featured in and the year of release for that film.
20. Ralph Fiennes
Movie- The Miracle Maker (2000)
19. Jonathan Scarfe
Movie- Jesus Christ
18. Enrique Irazoqui
Movie- The Gospel According To Matthew (1964)
17. Chris Sarandon
Movie- The Day Christ Died TV Movie (1979)
16. Jeffrey Hunter
Movie- King Of Kings (1961)
15. Ted Neeley
Movie- Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
14. Victor Garber
Movie- Godspell (1973)
“The Truth” (Psalm 23:1-3) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
13. Robert Powell
Movie- Jesus Of Nazareth TV Mini-Series (1977)
12. Jeremy Sisto
Movie- Jesus TV Mini-Series
11. Brian Deacon
Movie- Jesus (1979)
10. H.B. Warner
Movie- The King Of Kings (1927)
9. Max Von Sydow
Movie- The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
8. Claude Heter
Movie- Ben Hur (1959)
7. Bruce Marchiano
Movie- The Gospel According To Matthew: The Visual Bible (1993)
6. John Rubinstein
Movie- In Search Of Historic Jesus (1979)
5. Martin Donovan
Movie- The Book Of Life (1998)
4. Robert Le Vigan
Movie- Golgotha (1935)
3. Henry Ian Cusick
Movie- The Gospel Of John (2003)
Cusick of “Lost” fame actually played this role before he ever went to air on “Lost” as Sayid Jarah(One of the Oceanic 6). In this visual telling of the bible titled “The Gospel Of John” Henry portrays the Son of Man and I felt he did so well. He has a firm understanding of how to illustrate for the audience the simple perfection of all of Jesus’ work and ministry during his time on earth.
2. Christian Bale
Movie- Mary Mother Of Jesus TV Movie (1999)
Christian Bale is famous for his roles in the “Batman” movie franchise. I personally wouldn’t have expected him to make a good Jesus per say, but he overachieves in the role. He personifies well the calm and peace with Jesus must’ve always had while preaching and teaching.
1. Jim Caviezel
Movie- The Passion Of The Christ (2004)
Jim Caviezel gave an amazing performance in the Mel Gibson directed blockbuster known as “The Passion”, a film which was filmed in the languages of Latin and Aramaic. The film featured English subtitles also which pre-release was a cause of major concern as some thought it might deter the audience to have to read an entire movie. Apparently the Hollywood audience felt that the Lord was an exception to that thought, as “The Passion” drew in over 300 Million in the box office. A large part of the success of the film is highly attributable to the actor playing the lead role, he captivated the audience in all aspects. The movie focuses on the final 12 hours of the life of Christ. One of the best parts in my opinion is when Jesus escapes to the Garden to pray. The character portraying Satan is stalking Jesus while he prays, always trying to cast doubt on Christ about the weight of what Jesus was about to embark on. To the point that Jesus prays to the Lord to take this away if he can. Ultimately he prays for God to let his will be done in and through Christ, Jesus.
As you can see the list is growing and hopefully will continue to grow in the near future as the Christian Hollywood boom continues. It will be hard to top Jim Caviezel in “The Passion Of The Christ” as he certainly gave the most spellbinding performance any of us as has seen to date. I hope this list was helpful and informative. Please let us at F&E know if we missed any of your favorite actors that have ever played the role of Jesus Christ in a film. God Bless, Jesus is King!
Resources- The Holy Bible, English Standard Version“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”, www.youtube.com, photo credit: ideacreamanuelaPps via photopin cc