Muslim actor portrays Jesus in Nat Geo movie

Haaz Sleiman plays Jesus in the TV movie based on Bill O'Reilly's best-selling book

March 29, 2015
Haaz Sleiman plays Jesus in National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Jesus”. PHOTO: KENT EANES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNELS

A 24-year-old Muslim actor will be portraying Jesus Christ in National Geographic's film, Killing Jesus.

Three Abrahamic religious will meet in the film, as Haaz Sleiman will be seen playing Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi that Christians believe was God made flesh.

The film is based on Fox News best-seller Bill O’Reilly's book of the same name.


Sleiman is hopeful the viewers will be transformed by Jesus the way he was. PHOTO: AFP


Sleiman said he was delighted to play the role, describing Jesus as the ultimate teacher, influencing his own life. When the Lebanese actor's mother heard of her son's newst venture, she said: "Bless you for playing Jesus, peace be upon him.”

Read: Muslim Actor: 'It's An Honor to Play Jesus'

Christians believe that Jesus was both divine and human, while Muslims claim he was not a son of God but his prophet. Sleiman said, “As an actor, my No. 1 focus was to be on the same page with the writer, director and producers,” he said.

“The idea that we got to focus on the humanity of Jesus was very inspiring and empowering to me,” Sleiman said. “It is what Jesus came to show us, the beauty of humanity and the love we are capable of having towards one another; even to love your own enemy.”

Read: Bill O'Reilly explains why he cast a Muslim actor for the role of Jesus in 'Killing Jesus'

Sleiman was optimistic everyone regardless of their faith would watch the movie and admire it.

And then Sleiman was struck with the obvious question, about the disapproval from conservative Christians to the idea of a Muslim playing Jesus. “I cannot speak for Jesus, but I can quote his teachings, and he said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’… How would he react to me playing Jesus? He wouldn’t judge it. He wouldn’t judge his own enemy.… Playing this part highlights his teaching in a very nice way.”

It is also interesting to note here that the film’s executive producer, Ridley Scott, was earlier criticised for casting white actors to play Hebrews and Egyptians for their role in Exodus: Gods and King, as well as terming it impossible to finance a film filled with actors named “Mohammad.”

The story was originally published in The Kansas City Star.


Beverly Thorpe | 6 years ago | Reply I knew this man was a peaceful muslim, and was proud of him for his portrayal of our God and to him, someone to be admired. That's okay with me. His face was what I liked. Many who play Jesus are traditionally handsome and Jesus was actually a man of his people, his Father's chosen people. This man's face, showed normal features a Jew might have and he spoke the words of Christ in the dialog more casually, normally, like one would speak from one Jew to another on a normal day. I think he did a great job!
SOMMER | 6 years ago | Reply Thank God that fellow is not playing Muhammad or else there would have been another protest in Pakistan and like youtube another good channel like Nat geo could have been banned in Pakistan.
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