The Bible miniseries is the #1 cable entertainment telecast of the year and being touted as the David and Goliath of television. The premier of the History Channel's religious series even topped American Idol's 12.8 million viewers by attracting 13.1 million viewers, a statistic that has baffled Hollywood's chief decision makers as the drama received a unexceptional score of 44 on the Metacritic site. Producer Mark Burnett told Yahoo! TV, "It's incredible with the ratings and all the attention on the series and Jesus is not even on the screen yet." That will change Sunday, March 17 when the "Hope" episode airs from 8:00-10:00.
Finding the right actor to play Jesus
Another reason people didn't expect The Bible to do well is that it lacks a big name cast, other than Roma Downey who starred in Touched by an Angel. Diogo Morcaldo, who plays Jesus in the series, is a household name in his native Portugal with a career that spans more than 16 years in TV, film and stage productions but outside of Portugal he is a virtual unknown. When producers Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey were looking for the actor to cast for the role of Jesus they wanted someone who could portray both "the lion and the lamb." Downey told Yahoo TV that to find someone "who also looked like what viewers expected him to proved to be a challenge that went right down to the wire."
"We wanted to find an actor who would embody both strength and humility." Roma Downey Yahoo! TV
Downey even asked for prayer in seeking the right actor to play the role of Jesus, and after a series of coincidences were led to Mogado. When he arrived at their home and strode up the garden path to their home, Downey turned to her husband and said. "There he is. We've found Jesus."
Mogado's reaction to playing Jesus
Diogo Mogado told E! News his first reaction to the news that he would be playing the part of Jesus was fear. "This is the most complete and complex role an actor can play. You can't play Jesus, especially when a lot of other wonderful actors already did that. That was my hardest task, and I really hope people will connect with what I tried to achieve."
The 33-year-old Morgado makes his debut as Jesus this Sunday, March 17 in the Hope episode of the series which introduces the New Testament portion of The Bible.
"He's the heartbeat of the series. He will come on the screen this Sunday evening, and he will carry the episodes to conclusion on Easter Sunday. He did a remarkable turn in this role, and I think that through his work he will touch people. His work is deep and beautiful, meaningful." – Roma Downey Yahoo! TV