Fox News Channel will air the cinematic version of Bill O’Reilly’s best selling book, “Killing Jesus,” four times on Easter weekend — and viewers will be seeing a familiar face in a very unfamiliar role.
Although O’Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard are both Roman Catholic, the book depicts the final days of Jesus from purely an historical perspective.
The movie will air at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday and Sunday.
Jesus is portrayed by a relatively unknown actor named Haaz Sleiman, who was raised in Lebanon. O’Reilly interviewed him last week prior to the film’s premier on the National Geographic Channel.
Although Sleiman was raised a Muslim, he told O’Reilly that his family celebrated Christmas each year.
“I always understood [Jesus’] presence in my life and in the world, and the importance of his presence and how he affected people” he said. “That I always got from a very young age — and how he influenced people in such a positive and powerful way.”
O’Reilly also interviewed the actor who portrayed King Herod — a man familiar to all “Cheers” and “Frasier” fans — Kelsey Grammer.
“It’s fine. I’m an actor,” he told O’Reilly of playing an evil character. “You lend yourself to the role. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on you.”
In this short behind-the-scenes clip, producer Aidan Elliott describes the challenges of working with 93 cast members, thousands of extras and hundreds of crew members to keep the production as authentic as possible.
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