VIDEO: Watch First Five Minutes of Nat Geo's Television Event KILLING JESUS
USA Today has exclusively shared the first five minutes of KILLING JESUS, a three-hour television event, premiering on Palm Sunday, March 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel. Watch the footage below!
Combining epic cinematography with intimate storytelling, KILLING JESUS was shot entirely in the Moroccan desert with a crew of 250 and more than 4,500 extras. The 93 speaking roles are brought to life by an incredibly diverse cast, with actors representing Lebanon, Morocco, Czech Republic, Ireland, Great Britain, Israel, Canada, Syria, Australia and the United States. The massive production, unlike anything undertaken by National Geographic Channel before, puts familiar Biblical characters under a new lens to give them layers of meaning rarely explored before.
Leading the cast are Kelsey Grammer ("Partners," "Boss") as King Herod the Great, the unrelenting and ambitious Roman-appointed King of Judea, who notoriously ordered the murder of all baby boys in Bethlehem, and Stephen Moyer ("True Blood") as Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered Jesus' crucifixion.
Haaz Sleiman ("The Visitor") portrays the title character Jesus, with Rufus Sewell ("Hercules") as Caiaphas, high priest of Jerusalem and conspirator in Jesus's death; Emmanuelle Chriqui ("Entourage") as Herodia, ex-wife of Herod II and wife of his brother Antipas, who manipulated her husband into having John the Baptist beheaded; Eoin Macken ("The Night Shift") as Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; John Rhys Davies("Indiana Jones") as Annas, a high priest in Jerusalem who first questioned Jesus and his teachings; Abhin Galeya as John the Baptist, who was considered a prophet and arrested and killed by Antipas; and Stephanie Leonidas ("Defiance") as Salome, daughter of Herod II and Herodias, whose dancing led to the demise of John the Baptist.
Rounding out the cast is Aneurin Barnard ("The White Queen") as James, one of Jesus' 12 apostles; Vernon Dobtcheff ("Before Sunset") as Isaiah, the prophet whom King Herod claimed came to him in a dream and prophesied his death; Tamsin Egerton ("The Look of Love") as Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate; John Lynch("Sliding Doors") as Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the high court in Israel, who was sympathetic to Jesus; Joe Doyle ("Reign") as Judas, the apostle who eventually betrayed Jesus; Alexis Rodney ("Guardians of the Galaxy") as Simon (Peter), the apostle who was Jesus' closest confidant; and Chris Ryman ("28 Weeks Later") as Malchus, a servant to Caiaphas.
With a script from Academy and Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Walon Green ("The Wild Bunch"), and directed by BAFTA Award-winner Chris Menaul ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," "Fatherland"), KILLING JESUSbrings a rich perspective to Jesus' story that will intrigue believers and nonbelievers alike.