In New Docuseries ‘Jonathan and Jesus,’ Actor Jonathan Roumie Shares Impact of Playing Jesus

In the docuseries, Roumie calls himself “the new kid on the block.” He discusses the impact it has had on him going from essentially no one knowing him to having loving fans around the world in a matter of a couple of years.

“Jonathan and Jesus” docuseries with actor Jonathan Roumie.
“Jonathan and Jesus” docuseries with actor Jonathan Roumie. (photo: Credit: Lionsgate Entertainment / Lionsgate Entertainment)

Not many children build a giant cross in their backyard and pretend to be Jesus Christ crucified. But this is just one of several interesting facts we learn about Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie in his recently released docuseries “Jonathan and Jesus.”

The new show, released Jan. 4 and streaming on Amazon Prime, follows Roumie as he explores the impact Jesus Christ had on the world throughout history and how the great weight of playing the Son of God has impacted Roumie himself.

The four-episode docuseries takes viewers around the world visiting iconic sites in Rome, Paris, and more, while notable names such as Brandon Flowers, Alice Cooper, Matt Fradd, Francis Chan, and Sheila E. also share their stories of the role Jesus plays in their lives.

The idea for the docuseries came after Roumie was invited to meet Pope Francis in August 2021. The Catholic actor invited the director of “The Chosen,” Dallas Jenkins, an evangelical Christian, to attend with him. The producers of the show wanted to capture the encounter on video and soon after, they had the idea to create a series bringing together the stories of different individuals whose lives have been impacted by Jesus as well as capture what it is like for Roumie to portray Jesus and the impact it has had on his life.

“I thought it was a wild idea. I had never seen anything like it before. So, I prayed about it,” Roumie told CNA in an interview.

“I thought, well, maybe this is something that God wants me to do and somehow it can ultimately serve to inspire someone by hearing my stories of surrender and what God’s done in my life since more deeply surrendering to him and the success that I’ve had as a result of that commitment to Christ,” he added.

In the docuseries, Roumie calls himself “the new kid on the block.” He discusses the impact it has had on him going from essentially no one knowing him to having loving fans around the world in a matter of a couple of years.

He shared that he never wanted to be in front of the camera, which is why he went into voiceover work — but “God had a different plan.”

“It’s taken time for me to come to terms with [it],” he said. “But I think it’s happened at a point in my life where God’s timing is perfect timing. It didn’t happen any earlier and it didn’t happen any later — it happened when it was supposed to happen.”

Roumie admitted that he’s still “trying to navigate the comfort level of being recognized,” adding that “it’s been extraordinary, and any kind of discomfort that I derive from the process my instinct is to just turn it over and just give it up and offer it up for God.”

“At the end of the day, whether it’s the docuseries or ‘The Chosen’ or anything else that I do, if people are affected by it in some way or moved by it or inspired by it, that‘s the goal — to bring light to people‘s lives,” Roumie said. “And to bring Jesus into the culture in a meaningful way to affect change, to affect interior change, to affect outward change, cultural change, and this is just a part of the equation.”

American rock singer Alice Cooper makes an appearance in the docuseries and shares with Roumie the impact that welcoming Jesus into his life has had on him personally and on his career. He admits that he was told that his career would fail if he came out publicly as a Christian. However, his career has flourished since then.

When asked if Roumie has experienced something similar, he told CNA that he has also been told to “downplay” his faith.

“I‘ve had people say, like, ‘you might want to downplay your faith a little bit because it‘s not really a thing that‘s going to win you over to people in casting films and TV shows,‘” he told CNA.

“I think in Hollywood especially, people are kind of nervous about talking about their faith in a business setting,” Roumie said. “I never was. I’m happy to talk about it to anyone who wants to talk about it, but getting that kind of advice was a little strange and disappointing, but I also wasn’t surprised because that’s what I heard about.”

He explained: “I think the fact that I’ve surrendered any notion of what kind of control I have over my career and I just say, ‘Lord, you tell me where you want me to go.’ And if someone wants to cast me on something beyond Jesus when ‘The Chosen’ is over, great. If not, great. It doesn’t matter to me. I mean it does, I would love to work, of course, but I trust God and everything he does.”

“He’s going to show me where he wants me to be and the roles he wants me to play, and hopefully there’ll be some interesting stuff outside of that kind of box. But whatever he does, whatever he wants for me, that’s good enough for me.”

In the last episode of the series, the major theme is surrendering oneself to God’s plan for your life. Roumie has been vocal about the moment in his life when he completely surrendered his life and career to God. 

One day, at his lowest point, having $20 in his pocket and only having enough food for the day, he got on his knees and surrendered all his struggles to God. Later that day, he received several unexpected checks in the mail that covered his bills. A couple of months later, he was contacted about playing Jesus in “The Chosen.”

Roumie hopes that viewers of the docuseries will be “inspired to surrender whatever it is they might be struggling with in their own lives that are keeping them back.”

“I got to this point because I had to let go of the reins, I had to let go of control, and as a result, God changed my life irrevocably,” he said.

“I think there are a lot of people that are afraid to surrender. They’re afraid to give things over to God — whether it’s their personal life, their health, their finances, their career — and the way it works, I found with him, is that when you completely rely on him, he takes care of you because that’s what he’s promised to do.”

Edward Reginald Frampton, “The Voyage of St. Brendan,” 1908, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin.

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