Jesus in Film and TV: 18 Devilishly Handsome Actors Who've Played the Son of God

12:29 PM 4/1/2018

by Mikey O'Connell and Zoe Haylock

John Legend, Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor and Diogo Morgado are just some of the attractive gents who've played the Messiah.

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert Still John Legend - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of NBC

John Legend, Jim Caviezel, Will Ferrell, Christian Bale, Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe and Ewan McGregor are among the stars who've played Jesus Christ in film and on TV.

Legend recently starred as the Son of God in NBC's live production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which he also executive produced, taking home an Emmy for outstanding variety special and putting him in the elite EGOT group of people who've won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. 

Diogo Morgado and Juan Pablo Di Pace made headlines for their portrayals of Jesus in Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's The Bible and AD: The Bible Continues, respectively. And Jim Caviezel is still well known for his starring role in Mel Gibson's controversial Passion of the Christ in 2004. Meanwhile, Willem Dafoe tackled a darker version of Jesus in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ while Ted Neeley and Victor Garber gave the role a musical spin in an earlier version of Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, respectively.

Whether it's in a comedy or a drama on film or TV, these men have brought the Son of God to life on the big screen. Take a look at some of the most memorable stars who played the Messiah, below. 

  • John Legend, 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (2018)

    John Legend joined the elite EGOT club after he played Jesus Christ in NBC's production of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Airing on Easter, April 1, 2018 the musical also starred Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper.

  • Haaz Sleiman, 'Killing Jesus' (2015)

    Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman has Jesus' Middle Eastern roots and James Dean's piercing eyes. He tackled the big role in Nat Geo's TV adaptation of Bill O'Reilly's best-selling book of the same name.

  • Ewan McGregor, 'Last Days in the Desert' (2015)

    Ewan McGregor stepped into the sandals for this 2015 Sundance entry.

  • Juan Pablo Di Pace, 'AD: The Bible Continues' (2015)

    Potentially the first Christ to also be a Crossfit devotee, Juan Pablo Di Pace stars in Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's follow-up to The Bible and only appears post-crucifixion. Three cheers for sequels!

  • Gerald "Slink" Johnson, 'Black Jesus' (2014)

    Adult Swim's Jesus (Gerald "Slink" Johnson) is a more rough-around-the-edges savior who drinks, smokes pot on stoops and doesn't seem to have washed his clothes in a while.

  • Diogo Morgado, 'The Bible and Son of God' (2013)

    Mark Burnett really upped the game with his choice in Jesus casting for History's The BibleDiogo Morgado, a relative unknown in the U.S., started his career as a model before moving into Portuguese soap and television series.

  • Robert Torti, 'Reefer Madness' (2005)

    Part musical, part stoner spoof, all social commentary, Showtime's TV adaptation of the stage play (itself based on the 1936 feature PSA) features Robert Torti as a buff, crooning Christ.

  • Jim Caviezel, 'The Passion of the Christ' (2004)

    Modern cinema's de facto Jesus, Jim Caviezel's starring role in Mel Gibson's controversial pic remains his career-defining role more than a decade after the fact. More than 14 years later, Caviezel is in talks to reprise his role as Jesus in a Passion of the Christ sequel. 

  • Ralph Fiennes, 'The Miracle Maker' (2000)

    The Miracle Maker's claymation Jesus may be a little left-field -- but with powerhouse Ralph Fiennes providing the vocals, it's also impossible to ignore.

  • Jeremy Sisto, 'Jesus' (1999)

    Somewhere between Clueless and Suburgatory, Jeremy Sisto's career took a bit of an unpredictable turn playing Jesus -- though his hair, at the very least, gave a compelling performance.

  • Christian Bale, 'Mary Mother of Jesus' (1999)

    Batman himself, Christian Bale, played Jesus well into his career, in the TV movie that focused more on Mary (Pernilla August).

  • Will Ferrell, 'Superstar' (1999)

    It's only a moment, but Will Ferrell's dream sequence Jesus remains infinitely more memorable than his actual character in the Saturday Night Live film.

  • Willem Dafoe, 'The Last Temptation of Christ' (1988)

    Martin Scorsese's 1988 film tackles a darker version of Christ, with Willem Dafoe playing a Jesus who day-dreams about sex.

  • Chris Sarandon, 'The Day Christ Died' (1980)

    Before he was causing trouble in The Princess Bride or Fright Night, frequently villainous Chris Sarandon played the ultimate nice guy.

  • Robert Powell, 'Jesus of Nazareth' (1977)

    For those still craving more after History's 10-episode The Bible, check out its 371-minute miniseries predecessor directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Robert Powell makes for a good Son of God, but Anne Bancroft steals it as Mary Magdalene.

  • Victor Garber, 'Godspell' (1973)

    What is it about Jesus and musicals? Coming out the same year as Jesus Christ Superstar, this less by-the-book retelling of his life starred Victor Garber as a melancholy, hippy clown version of the lord.

  • Max von Sydow, 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' (1965)

    Before he battled demons in The Exorcist, Oscar nominee Max von Sydow tackled Jesus in George Stevens' epic that counted Charlton Heston and John Wayne among its cast.

  • Ted Neeley, 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (1973)

    Perhaps the coolest man to ever play Jesus, Ted Neeley -- a drummer and singer by trade -- originally auditioned for the role of Judas in the Broadway production.