Producers Say Son of God is "An Invitation to Fall in Love with Jesus"
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 2 Feb
When it comes to successful television shows, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are quite a power couple.
For his part, Burnett has been the mastermind behind some of America’s most popular reality programming including The Voice, The Apprentice, Survivor and Shark Tank, while his wife is probably best known for her role on Touched By An Angel, which enjoyed a nearly decade-long run.
But as proud as they are of past achievements, it's clear that Burnett and Downey are particularly excited about their latest passion project. After the record-breaking success of last Spring's The Bible miniseries that aired on the History Channel, the timing seemed right for Jesus to make His way back to the big screen.
And now a decade after The Passion of The Christ dominated headlines when it hit theaters, Burnett and Downey are "absolutely thrilled" to present the full picture of Jesus's life, death and resurrection in Son of God, which opens this Friday, February 28.
An Invitation to Fall in Love with Jesus
Like many believers, Downey remembers the days when movies about Jesus felt, well, a little dated.
"First of all, so many had characters who looked like they stepped out of the dry cleaners," Downey said during a recent media day in Dallas. "They had that feeling we referred to as 'donkeys and sandals.' It didn't feel gritty or realistic or authentic. We hoped to create a film that would invite the viewer in and remind them that most of the characters, with the exception of Jesus, weren't perfect. It's in their imperfections, in their humanity that we get to meet them. The disciples didn't know they were in the Bible. They were real people struggling with real issues."
The thought process behind Son of God was to make it equally epic and intimate—not the easiest of balances to strike despite the beauty of the Moroccan backdrop where it was shot.
"Being in Morocco gave us access to such great landscapes, vistas and beautiful terrain," Downey remembers. "But when it's all said and done, with the grandeur, the epic scale, the beauty of Son of God is the intimacy of the love story. We get to feel the love and tenderness of Jesus. You get to really feel that personal relationship. People who already love the Lord who come to the movie can fall in love with Him all over again. But there's also an opportunity for people who don't know our story. It's our prayer that they will fall in love with Jesus, too."
Where Humanity Meets the Miraculous
In Son of God, Jesus's miracles are at the forefront, something Downey thinks is important for our visually minded culture.
"Whenever I think of Moses, I still imagine Charlton Heston [from The Ten Commandments], and I think that's the case for many people because we're often visual learners," Downey says. "When miracles have been brought to screen in the past, they haven't always been as updated as we are with technology. So we found an Oscar-winning effects team to introduce Jesus's miracles into the story."
And for Downey who has "loved Jesus her whole life," Son of God was also an opportunity to see the familiar story through a new lens by playing the role of Jesus's mother, Mary.
"I never considered what it would be like to be His mother. To step into that role, I just tried to step into the heart of what a mother would feel," Downey shares. "We know she was the mother of the Son of God, but she was also the mother of a son. Part of what we really hoped to achieve with the film was to find the humanity in the story. We know from the Bible that Jesus only said seven things from the Cross. Yet in the midst of all that was happening to Him, He took time to love on His mother."
Calling it "the most beautiful role" that she's "ever had the privilege of playing," Downey said Jesus's response to his mother taught her so much about who He was.
A Call to Change the World
In addition to showcasing who Jesus is, it was also important to Burnett that Son of God left the audience with a clear call to action.
"In only two hours, it was so important to us to lead people up to The Great Commission," Mark says. "We wanted to encourage people to go out. Change the world. Start the conversations."
While Burnett is the first to admit that he and Downey "are not qualified to teach the Bible because they aren't pastors or theologians," he sees Son of God as a "resource" and "a gift to the Church."
"We were called, and we got off the couch," Burnett says with a laugh. "The truth is God doesn't always call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. We are just grateful to work on this film."
Picking right up where her husband left off, Downey concludes that making Son of God has ultimately been nothing short of a privilege.
"It's been such an honor to bring this story to the screen," Downey says. "We want this film to impact the lives of millions of people, so they can get to know His story and have an opportunity to fall in love with Him, too."
For more information on Son of God, please visit sonofgodmovie.com.
Publication date: February 25, 2014