NBC’s A.D. The Bible Continues is set to premiere on Easter Sunday at 9pm ET/PT with Juan Pablo Di Pace taking on the daunting task of playing Jesus. Di Pace’s previous work in Mamma Mia!, Camp, and Dallas didn’t prepare him for playing Jesus, and after having taken on the role Di Pace says the experience has been life-changing. Sitting down with a few journalists to discuss A.D. The Bible Continues during the Television Critics Association’s press event in Los Angeles, Juan Pablo Di Pace provided a little insight into what it’s like to star in this sequel to the miniseries The Bible from producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.
Juan Pablo Di Pace Interview
You’ve said that you became more of a listener while playing Jesus. Did that change your acting moving forward?
“Completely. As I’ve said before, it’s actually an exercise in focusing, you know? As Roma [Downey] said, I went into the desert. I decided the best way to prepare for the role was to sleep in the desert for three nights. I did, and it was just the stars, the sand, and myself, and every single time when I had a doubt about a scene or a moment in the show, I would always go back to the desert. I would always go back to that moment where it was just focus and quiet and simplicity.”
How do you choose your next project after playing Jesus?[Laughing] “That’s a great question. I don’t know. It certainly feels like the responsibility that came with this role, and also the excitement to learn all these things in the process, makes every other role quite hard to want to play. Before this I was a drug dealer and now I’m Jesus.”
Do you feel a responsibility after playing a role like this?
“Yes, you feel the responsibility with the role. So actually a selfish part of you goes, ‘I want this responsibility every time,’ you know? Because it’s wonderful. It feels like you’re doing something that really matters.”
What did it feel like to shoot the scenes on the cross?
“Well, yes, it’s painful. You’re in a harness and you’re hanging, but actually for me it was absolutely stunning because to have that view from up there, all the people down there looking up, maybe cursing at you, maybe crying. And then we the real mountains and deserts all beyond…it was just an incredible experience. And then to have my mother [painter Marta Maineri] there was emotional. I talked to her during the filming, during that day and she was like, ‘Well done. That was great.’ She didn’t say anything and then months later she was like, ‘I never told you but I actually had a heart problem when I saw you. My heart actually hurt.’ She actually had to go to the hospital. She said it was really hard to see her own son doing that because it felt too real.”
Have you gone on with life with more compassion for things you might not have had as much patience for before?
“Completely. I think about patience with people and patience with the situation and appreciating each moment. The fact that this man died at 33 it makes me think he lived his life fully every second of his life, so I want to do the same.”
Jim Caviezel got struck by lightning while filming The Passion of The Christ. Did you have any heavenly mishaps?
“Mishaps? Well, just the blood was kind of…there was just a lot of it. There was all kinds of blood. There was blood that was sticky, there was gooey blood. There was liquid blood, scabby blood, and so I remember walking around every single day like a robot because if I touched anything the prosthetics would just be destroyed. Fun and games.”
– By Fred Topel
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