Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado said in a recent interview he initially "freaked out" when he learned he would be playing the role of Jesus in the History Channel's miniseries "The Bible," as well as the upcoming "Son of God" film.
"I freaked out!" Morgado exclaimed to TODAY in a recent interview. "I was in shock; I was in panic because I knew the responsibility. I mean, I went to Jerusalem and while I was there, I felt on my own the importance of the story. [It's] so alive."
Morgado initially played the role of Jesus in the hit History Channel miniseries "The Bible," produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Following "The Bible's" immense success, Downey and Burnett chose to produce a full-length, feature film playing off of the successful series that follows Jesus' life, from his birth until his resurrection.
The 34-year-old, 6-foot-3 actor went on to say that he thinks the upcoming "Son of God" movie will have an especially important effect on viewers due to the high-quality technological features found in the film.
"Today we have the technology to, you know, fulfill it in visual ways people are actually going to be blown [away] by," Morgado said. "Fifty years ago, we didn't have that technology to visualize this wonderful miracle."
Morgado has made it clear in past interviews that he takes his role as Jesus very seriously, understanding the impact his acting could have on viewers who are unsure about religion or the Bible. The actor told "Good Morning America" last week that he thinks the film will have an important impact on children as well.
"We live in a visual world now. Kids can learn a lot by seeing things rather than reading it. So I really understood the responsibility," Morgado said. "There's a lot of people out there, a lot of kids especially. They don't know who exactly Jesus was. So this is actually a tool that can teach these kids about why Jesus was who he was and why the Bible was the most important book."
"I grew up as a Christian and I always think of Jesus as someone right next to us, you know, someone really close, and I never actually saw that onscreen in a way that could be identified," Morgado said. "So I actually tried to go that way and build this relationship of one-on-one with the viewer."
"Son of God" will be released nationwide on Friday, and several churches across the U.S. have rented out entire theaters to offer screenings of the film. Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., announced earlier this week that it will be giving away 3,500 movie tickets to those who wish to pre-screen the film Thursday, before its official release on Friday. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., has also bought out at least eight theaters to offer screenings for the "Son of God" film.