JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR; the Deity Dozen of Toughest Role Ever

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), March 16, 2008 | Go to article overview

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR; the Deity Dozen of Toughest Role Ever


Byline: By LESLEY ROBERTS

IT'S the greatest story ever told - but telling it is fraught with danger.

The BBC wades into controversy tonight with its four-part pounds 4million Biblical drama The Passion.

And little-known actor Joseph Mawle admits he found the leading role "incredibly daunting".

But Scotland's religious leaders are pleased that the holy story is being retold. The Rev Jock Stein, of the Church of Scotland's mission council, said: "If people start talking about Jesus and taking him more seriously, that's good news."

Ronnie Convery, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Glasgow, was a consultant for the programme which culminates on Easter Sunday.

He said: "Dramatisation is fine as long as the story is accurate. I'm sure this will be gripping TV."

From Willem Dafoe to David Essex, many actors have played Jesus over the years, attracting varying levels of criticism.

Here are our Deity Dozen - 12 most famous portrayals of Jesus Christ, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Jesus of Nazareth (1977) - Robert Powell

FRANCO ZEFFIRELLI'S masterpiece mini series lasted six hours and followed Jesus' story, from birth to resurrection. Powell's performance won praise but he later said: "You always offend someone and never live up to someone else's expectations."

The Passion of the Christ (2004) - Jim Caviezel

MEL GIBSON'S blood-soaked portrayal of Christ's crucifixion was a box office smash - but branded anti-semitic. Caviezel certainly suffered for the role: he was struck by lightning, dislocated his shoulder, accidentally whipped and injured his eye.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1989) - Willem Dafoe

MARTIN SCORSESE'S infamous movie provoked the fury of Christian groups with a dream sequence, showing Jesus (played by Willem Dafoe) making love with Mary Magdalene. Scorsese ended up getting death threats.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) - Max Von Sydow

THIS big-budget spectacular never lived up to its billing - with star Von Sydow more wooden than his cross. Even John Wayne playing a Roman centurian could not save it as he famously drawls: "Truly dis man was da son of God."

Godspell (1971) - David Essex

THIS stage musical - featuring hit song Day By Day - set 23-year-old David Essex on a heavenly career path.

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