John Legend is playing one of the most legendary religious figures of all time in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert special. Getting cast as the son of God is a pretty big deal, but Legend’s supermodel wife, Chrissy Teigen, told People that the singer isn’t just looking forward to portraying Jesus because the Biblical character is a religious icon whose story continues to impact the lives of billions of people. According to Teigen, her husband is also pretty excited about getting to lose his shirt tonight during the live performance.
On Tuesday, Chrissy Teigen said that John Legend was going on an extreme diet to prepare his body for his role in Jesus Christ Superstar.
“John’s eating really healthy right now for Jesus Christ Superstar,” Teigen said. “He has a shirtless scene he’s pretty excited about, but he’s actually starting to fast, like juice fast, starting today.”
Legend has also been busy rehearsing for the live Easter Sunday special, an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1971 Broadway rock opera about the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. According to Chrissy Teigen, she didn’t always understand what her husband was talking about when he tried to describe to her what was going on at rehearsal.
“John said there would be leopards today,” she recently tweeted. “But it’s lepers. I uh, am not good with the Bible.”
During an interview with Popsugar, Legend said that he was spending six to eight hours every day preparing for his role as Jesus. He also revealed that Chrissy Teigen and their 1-year-old daughter, Luna, have gotten to hear a sampling of the songs that he’ll be belting out tonight.
“It’s been an immersion into the material, just learning all the lyrics and musical cues. And then just starting to inhabit the character and let it become a part of me. It’s been fun, but it’s taken over my brain. So, even when I’m at home, I’m humming the songs and rehearsing my lines in my head.”
Legend was raised in a Christian household and has more than one minister in his family, so he’s a little more familiar with the Bible than his wife is. He revealed that his religious upbringing played a part in his decision to sign on for the “iconic” role of Jesus. However, he told the New York Times that he doesn’t consider himself religious now.
NBC has resurrected Jesus Christ Superstar as more of a live concert than a Broadway-style musical production. According to NPR, there will be little set decoration, and the cast will wear modern clothing. In addition to John Legend, the cast includes “Love Song” singer Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, rocker Alice Cooper as King Herod, and Hamilton star Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.