MIDLOTHIAN, Texas — Actor Nick Shakoour, who plays Zebedee in the hit series “The Chosen,” recently described an encounter with the Holy Spirit at the end of season three that took him from believing in God to knowing that Jesus is real.
The young adult actor, who plays an older fisherman who is the father of two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, shared his experiences with The Christian Post during a set visit.
"I did not think I had a shot in a million years to play a 50-year-old fisherman in Capernaum. From there, it was a journey of 'I don't know what this is going to be about.' But I knew it felt good coming here,” Shakoour said.
"At the time, I called it the vibe. In hindsight, it was the Holy Spirit guiding us throughout this whole process because there's no way that all of this would have happened if it wasn't for God."
Created by Dallas Jenkins, “The Chosen" has grown into a global phenomenon, having been streamed by over 500 million people worldwide. Season four of the history-making series is now underway, and a recent partnership with Lionsgate is expanding the show's reach.
Shakoour revealed that, prior to “The Chosen,” he had never felt led to act in a faith-based production.
"How many faith-based projects are out there? There's a lot, and I've never been interested in being a part of any of them, let alone acting in them or watching them. This has just been mind-blowing. Zebedee has become my favorite on-camera character to play. It's so fun getting to be him,” he shared.
Taking on the role of Zebedee has changed how Shakoour views his faith in Jesus, with him declaring, "I don't even [just] believe in Him anymore. I know Him!”
"I was invited to a church conference when I was here last September during season three, a few days before I flew back to California. I had people lay their hands over me, and it was at a point in time where I realized I wasn't exactly happy even though I was on a successful show and something was missing,” the performer explained.
"I called out to God that day, desperately wanting to meet Him."
Shakoour described a supernatural encounter with the Holy Spirit that changed him.
"I ended up at this conference, and the next thing I knew, my organs felt like they were being burned away. [It felt like] I was being vibrated and microwaved at the same time. And from the outside in, He just overtook me, and I fully came to understand who He is," Shakoour testified.
"Since then, it's been one encounter after the next, one relationship after the next. The reason I say I don't believe in Him anymore is because I know Him now.”
The Hollywood actor believes “The Chosen” was what God used to bring him to that closeness in relationship with Him.
"I don't have to try and believe in Him anymore like I used to. I used to always believe in God and Jesus, but it's been amazing,” Shakoour continued. "This show has been a conduit, I believe, to get me here for this specific encounter that I had, which I never thought.”
He described it as a spiritual surgery and says he now understands why he was so comfortable in his role as Zebedee.
"When I'm stepping into this role, and then with the layers of the costume department so brilliantly designing that specific getup for Zebedee, and the makeup and hair department, how they can age him to look the way he does. When I step into him, I'm literally overtaken by this overwhelming warmth and protection. And, in hindsight, it was always God.”
Shakoour said God has “made me feel what it feels like to be a dad. I feel like a dad on the show. I genuinely feel like I'm a dad. I've never been a dad yet. But I feel what it's like to be a dad.”
The sensation, the love that he feels while on set with his on-camera sons, is “natural," and it is "something I never thought I'd be able to fulfill. Like, I can't relate to this guy. He's a fisherman in his 50s, and he's a dad."
Season four of “The Chosen,” set to premiere in 2024, delves into the realities of life’s dark moments, painful moments, and even death. Shakoour said the show is perfect for the times we're living in.
"What I've come to realize is our world is paralleling so much what's happening in 'The Chosen,' and in 'The Chosen,' people are starting to take cover under the wings of Jesus,” he added.
“Some things that I've been telling a lot of close friends and relatives recently is that, in my heart, I keep hearing, 'Take cover under His wings now.' Based on everything we've been through, we don't know what the future holds, but we do know that if we know Him, then no matter what's thrown in our faces by evil, that He is going to triumph eventually, just like He did back then and He will once again."
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic