‘Killing Jesus’ Cast Announced, Arab-American Actor To Play Jesus Christ

The adaptation of the Bill O’Reilly’s novel Killing Jesus has been cast and you will recognize many of the names. The all star cast includes some very familiar names and a surprising choice for the role of Jesus.

National Geographic signed on to bring the bestselling novel to the small screen more than a year ago. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the impressive cast for Killing Jesus includes Haaz Sleiman (The Visitor) as Jesus; Kelsey Grammer will play King Herod, who attempted to murder Jesus when he was an infant; Stephen Moyer is Pontius Pilate, the Governor who ordered Jesus to be crucified; and Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodia, who participated in John the Baptist’s murder.

The made for TV movie will be produced by Scott Free Productions’ Ridley Scott, David Zucker, Mary Lisio, and Teri Weinberg, the same team that made another Bill O’Reilly bestseller, Killing Kennedy, into a movie in 2013.

“The film Killing Jesus will break new ground in chronicling the life of the most famous human being who ever lived,” said O’Reilly, who is also an executive producer. “The superb cast and script reflect much thought and research. Viewers are in for something very different and very special.”

Based on the novel of the same name by O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Jesus chronicles the life of Jesus of Nazareth — who Christians believe is the son of God in a historical context. The film narrative is through the retelling of the political, social and historical conflicts during the Roman Empire that ultimately led to his death.

For the central role, producers cast United Arab Emirates born actor Haaz Sleiman, who was raised in Lebanon, but is a resident of the U.S. since 21. Not widely known to audiences, Sleiman previously appeared in The Visitor, where he played a Syrian illegal immigrant and for which he received positive reviews. The actor commented on the news of his casting in Killing Jesus.

“This is one of the most powerful and inspiring stories ever told. I’m honored and humbled to be given this gift. Jesus’ message of peace and unconditional love is as vital today as ever, no matter the color of your skin, gender, beliefs or nationality. The story is a celebration of our magnificence as humans and the strength, compassion, and empathy we can uphold towards one another.”

Even though the casting of a Muslim actor to play Jesus Christ in Killing Jesus could cause controversy, National Geographic Channel’s spokesman Christopher Albert told Breitbart News Sleiman’s religion wasn’t even a consideration.

“We hired the best actor for all the roles. That was our one and only criteria for casting this movie, which we are incredibly excited about. Haaz in particular blew us away in The Visitor, and was on our short list from the start.”

“When he came in and read for producers in L.A., we knew we had the perfect actor for the role. And we, of course, don’t ask anyone what their religion or any other affiliation is when they audition for a part and certainly don’t discriminate based on religion or anything else.”

Killing Jesus will premiere globally on National Geographic Channel in 2015 in 171 countries and it will be televised in 45 languages. It will also premiere on the Spanish network Nat Geo Mundo.

[Image via Breitbart]