Son of God has been a true labor of love for those closest to the production.
Roma Downey, who co-produced the film and played Mother Mary, is a little taken aback by all the buzz generated by the film, a big-screen version of her and husband Mark Burnett’s History Channel series The Bible.
The film features a mix of new and used footage from the TV movie, which averaged 11.4 million viewers.
“We shot footage for this while we were doing the miniseries not knowing whether we would get distribution,” Downey explained from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami. “But lo and behold, 20th Century Fox called and said they wanted to give it a limited release in both Spanish and English. At first people thought we were nuts, so it’s been extra exciting.”
Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, who reprises his role as Jesus Christ, was beyond prepared for the challenge.
“I feel like I’m not acting. I’m completely part of this; it’s a part of me.”
He hopes that this “epic” film will appeal not only to religious folks.
“I just want people to be touched by this emotional and spiritual journey,” Morgado said. “It gives you a more personal look at the man, his whole life and his human condition.”
Reality show mega producer Burnett gets out of the boardroom ( The Apprentice, Shark Tank), remote island ( Survivor) and sound stage ( The Voice) to take on this monumental project.
“It was great fun actually, an adventure,” said Burnett, who admits shooting wasn’t without challenges. “It was just enormous. We had a crew of 400 in southern Morocco for six months with conditions ranging from the Colorado Rockies to the Sahara Desert. You’ve got to really love the outdoors.”
Burnett, 53, described Son of God as a “gritty, sweeping political thriller with a House of Cards feel to it,” made with excruciating attention to detail.
“We wanted to make sure everything was top quality — from the saddle on the horses, to the swords and the armor they used back then,” the Brit said. “Everything was thoroughly researched.”
Downey, also 53, had no complaints; she likes working with her husband of seven years.
“It’s not often in life when you get to combine what you love with what you believe,” said the one-time Touched by an Angel star, who is Irish. “Doing this with my beloved was a great blessing indeed.”
The couple has two more television projects in the pipeline: AD, a four-hour miniseries on CBS set right after Christ’s death, airing in spring 2015; and the Masada tale The Dovekeepers, based on the New York Times bestseller by Alice Hoffman.
“All the stories share a similar heartbeat — they are stories that are meant to inspire,” said Downey. “We hope to bring a message of triumph over adversity.”