Just in time for the holidays, NBC’s mini-series A.D. The Bible Continues comes out on DVD on November 3! Give your rosary-sporting abuelitas some serious delight by stuffing their stockings with Jesus Christ and Co.! Or watch it because it’s entertaining.
The series, executive produced by Roma Downey (Touched By an Angel, The Bible) and Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank, The Voice, The Bible) chronicles how Jesus’ death and resurrection upset human history. Light stuff. Spoiler alert: it turns out the early Catholic Church, like Rome, was not built in a day. Also, Jesus dies. And comes back. And flies away to heaven protected by angels.
In other news, I just interviewed “the man who was a danger to the status quo.” No, not Donald Trump. I’m talking about the original disrupter, Jesus Christ. He came from the heavens and spoke to me. Ok. Fine. I interviewed the man who plays Jesus Christ on A.D.
He didn’t come from the heavens – he came from Argentina, (a place where most locals believe they are God’s gift to humanity. Hm. Good call casting executives). Cheap jokes aside, Juan Pablo Di Pace, the actor-dancer-director best known for Mamma Mia! spoke with me about playing J.C., miracles, and his last supper.
How was the audition process?
There were three rounds of auditions. The executives wanted someone with kind eyes and my sister, Maria Victoria Di Pace, an amazing actor and director, helped me prep. For the first round, it was the scene right after Jesus is resurrected and shows his wounds to Tomás. Then I had to give the sermon before ascending to heaven. “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to all of creation…”
“Humor is another way to get to people; it’s endearing, you connect in a playful way.”
Intense. Do you think Jesus had a sense of humor?
Definitely. Like in that scene after the resurrection where he shows himself to the apostles, his first words are, “Is there any food?” Humor is another way to get to people; it’s endearing, you connect in a playful way.
Tell me the truth. Did you read the Bible to prep?
Of course. It helped because it is very descriptive. But I wanted to discover what he was like as a man. What a hard, bummable existence…as a man he was really feeling what was going on. He was scared. We always think of Jesus as otherworldly, [but] he was a man.
Agreed, his life was full of bummers. What did you learn from him?
The part demanded that I stop [thinking]. It had to emanate from a very peaceful nature. Simple. I’ll take that into my own life.
“I was crucified looking over Morocco. It was beautiful.”
You know what didn’t look simple? The crucifixion scene. How long did that take to shoot?
Two days. Six hours of make up.
How tedious was it?
I didn’t think it was horrible. It was amazing, incredible, beautiful. Like a window in time 2,000 years back. I was crucified looking over Morocco. It was beautiful.
Spoken like a true glass-half-full kind of guy. What do you miss most about playing J.C?
It’s weird, after I took off the costume for the last time, I had – I still have – withdrawal symptoms. I don’t know it was this incredible blanket…it was soothing.
“It’s weird, after I took off the costume for the last time, I had – I still have – withdrawal symptoms.”
Mhm, sounds nice. Do you believe in miracles?
I believe in miracles. Sure. There are miracles every day. We make them happen. We just don’t use the power we have. Which is what Jesus wanted to say. He wanted to say, “you can do what I can do.” It was weird because this part came at a point in my life where I really needed it, so it was kind of like a miracle. If you ask something in a pure way, ask in a pure way. It’ll be answered. That’s a miracle. Just ask in a pure way. Whether it’s through meditation, prayer, yoga, or whatever form…just ask in a pure way.
I’ll take that into my life. Thanks. What was your last supper?
Sushi. From Walgreens.
You can see Juan Pablo next on Netflix’s Fuller House, where he plays Kimmy Gibbler’s ex-husband, Fernando. If anyone is going to need the grace of God to handle that, it’s him.
A.D. The Bible Continues comes out on Blu-ray and DVD on November 3, 2015.