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.”
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.”
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.