Actor Bruce Marchiano, star of PureFlix's "The Encounter" series, said experiencing Jesus in his life ruined Hollywood for him but transformed his world.
Marchiano got his start in mainstream Hollywood but is now known for his many onscreen portrayals of Jesus. His new series, “The Encounter,” derived from the film of the same name, features Marchiano as Victor.
Victor's mysterious appearances during difficult times in people’s lives helps them to understand what God can do for them.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview with Marchiano in which he gives insight into his early life, his transformation in God and how it turned him away from mainstream Hollywood and closer to Jesus.
Christian Post: Can you share an overview of the new season of “The Encounter” series and your role?
Marchiano: "The Encounter" brings Jesus into our contemporary world, face to face with everyday lives, reaching into their hearts and struggles with His grace, guidance and salvation. Think “Touched by an Angel” or “Highway to Heaven,” except it’s the Lord Himself.
I’m privileged to portray Jesus, though not in robe/sandals, haha! In one episode, Jesus manifests as a handyman; in another, an Uber driver … meeting each character “right where they’re at.” The constant message of the series is, “I am with you … come to Me, … trust Me, … I love you.” It’s very humbling to see the Lord touch so many lives with this simple message of His intimacy, involvement and care.
CP: You started your career as a mainstream actor in Hollywood. What made you transition into the Christian film industry?
Marchiano: I started my career in 1984 and was born again in ’89. Almost from day one I sensed the Lord changing my heart and part of that was turning down ungodly roles/shows — which triggered a season of extreme financial struggle (talk about clinging to faith by my fingernails!). Then in ’93 I was cast to portray Jesus in “The Visual Bible: The Gospel of Matthew.” It was a life-transforming experience that ruined me for Hollywood.
Once a guy gets a taste of making films for the Lord — films that change lives — nothing else satisfies. So I put away my mainstream dreams and turned wholeheartedly to ministry and Christian films. It hasn’t always been easy but I couldn’t be more thankful and thrilled.
CP: How did playing Jesus in the blockbuster “Visual Bible” series change your life?
Marchiano: There aren’t enough pages to answer this question. In fact (here comes the shameless plug) I wrote a book about it, In the Footsteps of Jesus. In a nutshell, like most folks, I figured I knew who Jesus was/is. I mean, I was born again and seriously involved in church, Bible studies, etc. But then I was asked to portray Him and suddenly I realized that with all my “hallelujahs!” I had never intentionally sought to truly know Him — His Person, nature, personality, if you will. The responsibility to represent Jesus drove me to seeking Him in prayer and His Word like I never thought possible.
And then to literally “walk through” His life, frame for frame — His Living Word, I encountered a “Man” so beyond anything I ever imagined. I discovered in Jesus a depth of love, compassion, intimacy, a height of joy unbounded … so far beyond anything I imagined. Truly, I could go on and on. When filming was finished and I was back in L.A., I remember sitting at traffic lights and just weeping to see the sea of lost souls walking the streets. As painful as it was I knew the Lord had changed my life in ways there was no going back. To this day, I struggle to find words to adequately convey it.
CP: You had a troubled childhood where you endured childhood abuse. Looking back, how were you able to heal from your past? What would you say to others with similar adversities?
Marchiano: I don’t talk about these things too often but yes, I grew up walking on eggshells because of a violent mother. Little did I realize at the time she was the product of a violent home herself — fear and fighting was all she knew. My coping “drug” was food, I guess because I couldn’t get enough. Thankfully, I was very athletic and raised hardworking, which helped a lot.
At 26, I topped out at 238. Being so close to 240 frightened me into taking action. I dropped 70 pounds and have stayed around 170 ever since, praise God! I had such anger toward my mother — and love at the same time. Once I was born again, the Lord began to “show” me my mother’s own horrific childhood and fear — and over time He erased my anger, leaving only love and understanding.
My mother passed to Jesus in 2018 and I miss her greatly — only the Lord can clean a heart so completely! For anyone who would identify with my childhood, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11, “Come to Me … I’m gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” I’d say curl up at the feet of Jesus and cry out your pain … and watch Him slowly but surely heal your heart as He did mine!
CP: We are currently facing difficult times, including a pandemic. What encouragement would you share to those who are discouraged?
Marchiano: Again I would turn to the words that Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago — standing before a people who were oppressed, beaten down, impoverished … His answer to it all was to offer His hand and plead, “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Learn from Me; I’m gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul” (Matthew 11:28-29). It’s always His answer to all our discouragement, fearfulness, fatigue — “Come to Me.” I think of His words in John 14:27, “Peace I leave you; My peace I give you.” Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Let’s turn our all to Jesus like never before!
CP: How do you keep an unwavering faith in Hollywood?
Marchiano: Most every morning I’m up before my family for a good hour of quiet time with the Lord (and coffee!). Then my wife will join me and we’ll continue to pray and read through God’s Word. I was telling her the other day my morning time with the Lord and then her and the Lord is my “addiction,” if you will.
Throughout the day, I’ll separate myself as the opportunity arises to pray. I work out most every afternoon and pray my way through every lift and curl. So I’d credit lots and lots of quiet time with the Lord, in prayer and His Word. My wife and children are very grounding as well.
CP: What other projects are you working on?
Marchiano: In November last year, I started filming my longest-held “passion project,” a verse-by-verse film of "The Gospel According to John." As producer, I’ve been working on it for many years and we finally got the cameras rolling. During this COVID-19 shut down we’re on hiatus and busy creating visual effects, wardrobe, etc. for the remainder of filming, which I hope to complete by year’s end.
At the same time, through my nonprofit ministry, Marchiano Ministries, we’re daily feeding about 300 children in South Africa, partnered with a children’s ministry in India and a few other outreach opportunities. We just completed Russian and Ukrainian dubbing of my pro-life film “Alison’s Choice” and we’re busy getting that out to more nations. So shutdown or no shutdown, the Lord is keeping me busy! Glory to Jesus!
"The Encounter" series is now on PureFlix.