Actor Set to Play Jesus in Tyler Perry's 'Passion' Musical Says Character Will 'Stay True to the Bible'

Cast member Jencarlos Canela speaks at a panel for the NBC series 'Telenovela' during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 13, 2016.
Cast member Jencarlos Canela speaks at a panel for the NBC series "Telenovela" during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 13, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

Jencarlos Canela, the Florida-born actor set to play Jesus in "The Passion" live musical, says his role will stay "true to the Bible."

Canela, who is of Cuban descent, told Miami's Sun Sentinel this week that he believes the upcoming musical will manage to stay true to the Scripture while also maintaining a modern and exciting twist.

"It's going to be very different. It's just revolutionary. It's groundbreaking. It's not the Jesus that we are used to seeing with the long beard and the robes," the 27-year-old said, adding that while the musical is "staying true to the biblical sense of the story … the elements surrounding the story are modern."

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"This is a story whether you are a believer or not, whether you are religious or not, a story about love, unity, faith, forgiveness, facing your fears and conquering them," Canela added.

The Miami-born actor noted that one element that makes the musical unique is the incorporation of modern songs, saying "to hear [the songs] within this context is mindblowing."

Music producer Adam Anders of "Glee" and "Rock of Ages" fame has arranged the score for the show.

As far as having the opportunity to play Jesus, Canela tells the Sun Sentinel that it's a role he could never fully prepare for.

"This message is way bigger than I can ever be. You can never fill the shoes of Jesus Christ," the actor said, adding that he tried to prepare for the role by tapping into his own humanity.

"Some of us were brought up a certain way at our core, at our center. If we see beyond skin, if we see beyond people, if we understand that everybody had a different upbringing, we [can] see the humanity in each person, which we can all identify with. I really honed into that part of me," he said.

Actor and producer Tyler Perry, who is known for creating the famous "Madea" character, is set to narrate the upcoming live special, which will air on the Fox network on March 20, the week before Easter Sunday.

As the network said in a statement, the musical will follow Jesus in his last remaining hours of life before he is crucified and resurrected.

"It will follow the dramatic and inspirational story of Jesus of Nazareth, as he presides over the Last Supper, and then is betrayed by Judas, put on trial by Pontius Pilate, convicted, crucified and resurrected," The Christian Post previously reported.

Along with Perry and Canela, other famous actors will also be appearing in the live musical, including country music singer Trisha Yearwood as Mary and Seal as Pontius Pilate.

The performance will air not only on the Fox network but also live in New Orleans, Louisiana, for fans to attend.

Perry, who is originally from New Orleans, said in a video clip promoting the event that he wanted to hold the performance in the southern city because he saw it "[rise] again" after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Fox Entertainment President David Madden said in a statement that Perry is the perfect icon to host the musical.

"The Passion is both wonderfully entertaining and genuinely inspirational," Madden said, adding that "Perry is the perfect host to lead the cast, and viewers, through the streets of New Orleans in this contemporary re-telling of a timeless story."

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