(Photo: The Christian Post / Stoyan Zaimov)
NEW YORK – The Christian Post had the opportunity to interview Diogo Morgado and Darwin Shaw, the actors behind Jesus and Peter, in the hit "The Bible" miniseries on The History Channel, at the Tuesday evening opening night gala of "The Bible Experience" in New York, a unique exhibit combining props from the miniseries with the world's largest private collection of biblical texts and artifacts.
Morgado, the 33-year-old Portuguese actor, made his first appearance as Jesus in last Sunday night's episode. He has been receiving positive reviews for his portrayal of the most famous figure in history, and spoke with CP about the role at Tuesday's event. Meanwhile, Shaw, the British stage actor who landed the role of Peter, told CP that he developed a unique brotherhood with Morgado, which he hopes will come alive on screen.
"The Bible Experience" in New York runs from March 20-27 and can be viewed for free at 450 W. 14th St. in Manhattan, while "The Bible" continues for two more episodes on The History Channel before the grand finale on Easter Sunday.
Q&A with Diogo Morgado
CP: Were you inspired by other actors who have played Jesus in past projects, or is this role entirely your interpretation?
Morgado: Even if nobody had done this role before, we are already taking a story that everybody knows – how it's going to end and what is going to happen next – so it is already so difficult. I try to stay away from all the other references – which I respect, but I tried not to watch them again while I was preparing [for the role]. So I started from scratch. How can I bring something different to this, to a new audience – we are always changing as a society.
I tried to create this relationship, one on one – I think that is something that Jesus has that is special. It's a personal relationship, it's an individual relationship. Jesus was touching us all in different ways.
I worked on that type of approach. Something that helped me was that I prayed to come up with this Jesus who knows who he is, he knows what he has to do, but he doesn't know how or when. If you take those two elements of not knowing – he was 100 percent the Son of God, but he was also 100 percent a human being – so balancing that was my main challenge.
CP: As an actor, did you ever dream about or did it ever cross your mind that you would one day be playing such a role?
Morgado: When I started acting, it was something that never crossed my mind because it was so unreachable to act – to be an actor. It took me six years to realize that this is what I love to do in life.
It never crossed my mind that I would have the opportunity to portray the most important figure in mankind.
Q&A with Darwin Shaw
CP: How did you manage to land the role of Peter?
Shaw: They did international casting around the world, because they had 110 speaking roles. So they were looking far and wide, and I was very fortunate to audition, and they obviously found something that they thought would work for Peter.
CP: What was it like working with Diogo Morgado?
Shaw: Diogo is one of the most generous, compassionate and kind actors I have ever met – he's also incredibly handsome. He's a great guy. To work with him was a privilege because once we were together, there was already a real chemistry, a real brotherhood, and I hope that is something that comes across on camera.
What was amazing is that I met him at the airport when we arrived in Morocco, and we kind of looked at each other, and we started talking. We sat down for three hours, and straight away were talking about the production, and the ideas were sort of bubbling – so we started immediately getting into things.
"That continued all the way throughout the shoot – we spent every day after 12 hours of filming, we'd go back, hanging out and going through the scenes. He is much more of an experienced actor than me, but we just tried to make every scene as rich as we could.
CP: How did you prepare for the role of Peter? Were you inspired by previous portrayals?
Shaw: It was entirely my own really. The role was portrayed in very different ways by some older generations and age groups. So I really went at it fresh – reading the Bible, around other stories and documents about Peter. I had to find a way of breathing life and modern humanity into it in a way that the audience can relate to. That involved separating yourself from the text, and trying to see "how would I as a human being respond if a complete stranger came up and tried to climb into my boat?
I tried to find the heart, the soulfulness of this man.