Kelsey Grammer will play King Herod in National Geographic Channel’s adaptation of Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus. Meanwhile, Stephen Moyer will play Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. Haaz Sleiman (The Visitor) will portray Jesus.
Grammer has been cast as “the unrelenting and ambitious Roman King of Judea, who attempted to kill Jesus at his birth,” NatGeo said in today’s announcement. Moyer (True Blood), who famously played Captain Von Trapp in NBC’s much-watched (around 19 million Live + Same Day — including some much documented hate-viewing) live broadcast of The Sound of Music last year.
Based on the best-seller by O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, the film chronicles the life of Jesus of at a time of intense political and social and conflict in the Roman Empire that ultimately led to his death.
In other Killing Jesus casting news:
– Rufus Sewell (Hercules) will play Caiaphas, high priest of Jerusalem and conspirator in Jesus’ death
– Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage) is cast as Herodia, ex-wife of Herod II and wife of his brother Antipas, who manipulated her husband and daughter into killing John the Baptist.
– Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) is Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea and co-conspirator in Jesus’ death
– John Rhys Davies (Indiana Jones) is Annas, a high priest in Jerusalem who first questioned Jesus and his teachings
– Abhin Galeya is John the Baptist, who was considered a prophet and arrested and killed by Antipas
– Stephanie Leonidas (Defiance) is Salome, daughter of Herod II and Herodias, who led to the demise of John the Baptist.
– Aneurin Barnard (The White Queen) is James, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles
– Vernon Dobtcheff (Before Sunset) is Isaiah, the prophet whom King Herod claimed came to him in a dream and prophesied his death
– Tamsin Egerton (The Look of Love) is Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate
– John Lynch (Sliding Doors) is Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the high court in Israel, who was sympathetic to Jesus
– Joe Doyle (Reign) is Judas, the apostle who eventually betrayed Jesus
– Alexis Rodney (Guardians of the Galaxy) is Simon (Peter), one of Jesus’ 12 apostles and his closest confidant.
In March, NatGeo said Killing Jesus would be a four-hour miniseries. Law & Order veteran Walon Green was tapped to write and executive produce the project, based on the book Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard which came out in September 2013. Returning for Killing Jesus is the team behind the Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy movies: Executive producers O’Reilly and Scott Free Productions’ Ridley Scott, David Zucker and Mary Lisio. The project films this fall with UK-based Chris Menaul directing.
Last November, National Geographic Channel aired the Scott Free production of O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy, a 2014 Emmy nominee for best television movie and the most-watched program in the channel’s history. The network’s second-most-watched program is the trio’s Killing Lincoln, which aired over Presidents’ Day weekend in February 2013. Religion-themed event programming is still considered a hot commodity, thanks to the success of History’s The Bible miniseries. A Bible sequel is in the works at NBC, while WGN America has greenlighted a Ten Commandments event series.