Kiwi actor fulfils dream by playing Jesus in film

Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis has described playing the role of Jesus in a new film as a very special experience.

Curtis plays Jesus in the film “Risen”, which opened in New Zealand last week.

The Kiwi actor was raised as a Catholic, but lapsed in his teens.

“It’s a role I have jokingly always wanted,” he said.

“Being raised a Roman Catholic, [Jesus] was my first superhero. I had a crucifix near my bed. I wanted to be a priest when I was a kid.”

Curtis described the experience of playing Jesus as “awesome” and “surreal”.

But the actor found spending hours with his arms outstretched on a cross tough.

“Yeah, it hurt,” Curtis said, “It was definitely painful. But that’s the gig.”

Curtis said he used meditation techniques to deal with the discomfort.

The movie, filmed in Malta, looks at the crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus.

Risen has Joseph Fiennes as a Roman officer on a mission to disprove the Resurrection.

The Sony-backed film is largely aimed at faith-based audiences – something that gave Curtis some initial qualms.

“I do my best to choose quality projects. You win some, you lose some. But I really liked the script. I thought it was an interesting take on it,” Curtis said.

Initially, Curtis, who is in his 40s, thought he was too old to play Jesus.

But he was told the producers were looking for an actor who looked as if he came from a Middle Eastern country and felt like a real man.

“Ah I can do that. I was a builder. I was a carpenter of sorts. I’m working stock,” Curtis said.

“He’s like a working-class Jesus, not this guy who floats around in the clouds. I related to that possibility. I can be a working-class nobody Jesus.”


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