This spring, National Geographic Channel’s Killing Jesus
, produced by Scott Free Productions and based on the New York Times
best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, dives deep inside the historical story of how Jesus’ message and preachings led to his persecution and execution by a group of conspirators who saw him as a threat to their power.Killing Jesus
, a three-hour television event, will premiere on Sunday, 29 March at 20:00 (Monday, 30 March at 03:00 on National Geographic, channel 181 on DStv), also globally in 172 countries in 45 languages and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo. The film is the third collaboration between NGC, Scott Free and Bill O’Reilly, whose first two projects together, Emmy Award
-nominated Killing Kennedy
and Killing Lincoln
are respectively the two most-watched programmes in the network’s U.S. history.
Combining epic cinematography with intimate storytelling, Killing Jesus
was shot entirely in the Moroccan desert with a crew of 250 and more than 4500 extras. The 93 speaking roles are brought to life by an incredibly diverse cast, with actors representing Lebanon, Morocco, Czech Republic, Ireland, Great Britain, Israel, Canada, Syria, Australia and the United States. The massive production, unlike anything undertaken by National Geographic Channel before, puts familiar Biblical characters under a new lens to give them layers of meaning rarely explored before.
Leading the cast are Kelsey Grammer as King Herod the Great, the unrelenting and ambitious Roman-appointed King of Judea, who notoriously ordered the murder of all baby boys in Bethlehem, and Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion.
Haaz Sleiman portrays the title character Jesus, with Rufus Sewell as Caiaphas, high priest of Jerusalem and conspirator in Jesus’s death; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodia, ex-wife of Herod II and wife of his brother Antipas, who manipulated her husband into having John the Baptist beheaded; Eoin Macken as Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; John Rhys Davies as Annas, a high priest in Jerusalem who first questioned Jesus and his teachings; Abhin Galeya as John the Baptist, who was considered a prophet and arrested and killed by Antipas; and Stephanie Leonidas as Salome, daughter of Herod II and Herodias, whose dancing led to the demise of John the Baptist.
Rounding out the cast is Aneurin Barnard as James, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles; Vernon Dobtcheff as Isaiah, the prophet whom King Herod claimed came to him in a dream and prophesied his death; Tamsin Egerton as Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate; John Lynch as Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the high court in Israel, who was sympathetic to Jesus; Joe Doyle as Judas, the apostle who eventually betrayed Jesus; Alexis Rodney as Simon (Peter), the apostle who was Jesus’ closest confidant; and Chris Ryman as Malchus, a servant to Caiaphas.
With a script from Academy
and Emmy Award
-winning screenwriter Walon Green, and directed by BAFTA Award
winner Chris Menaul, Killing Jesus
brings a rich perspective to Jesus’ story that will intrigue believers and nonbelievers alike.Killing Jesus
begins in the era of Jesus’ birth, with King Herod the Great ruling Judea, but feeling uneasy about potential threats to his power. This uneasiness leads Herod to order the murder of all boys under age 2, but a young Jesus and his family have already escaped. Moving 26 years into the future, viewers follow Jesus as he starts to develop and spread his message and begins to amass a following of devout believers. At the same time, new political players, including Herod’s son Antipas and Roman-appointed ruler Pontius Pilate, find themselves troubled by the growing influence of Jesus, while leaders in the Jewish Temple, Caiaphas and Annas, question his teachings and methods.
Through collusion, conspiracy and influence, Jesus is eventually arrested, in part due to the betrayal of one of his disciples, and crucified. He is buried in an unguarded tomb, and when mourners return several days later to anoint his body, the body is missing.
To this day, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has never been found. Killing Jesus
is produced by Scott Free Productions. For Scott Free, Ridley Scott, David W. Zucker and Mary Lisio are executive producers along with Bill O’Reilly and Teri Weinberg. For National Geographic Channel, executive producers are Charlie Parsons and Heather Moran. Tim Pastore is NGC president of original programming and production.
For more information, visit www.ngcpr.com
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