After originally premiering way back during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Last Days in the Desert has finally been released in theaters. The film, featuring Ewan McGregor as Jesus Christ, follows Jesus and his 40 days of fasting in the desert. The early reviews have been positive.
There have been many portrayals of Jesus in film. This wasn’t even the first (or last) appearance of Jesus in a movie this year. The Ben-Hur remake coming out later this summer will have an appearance from Jesus. But who’s played him best? What portrayals have been the most interesting? Here’s our list of the best Jesus performances:
Max Von Sydow – The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
The 87 year old actor is still going strong today appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and as the Three-Eyed Raven in the current season of Game of Thrones. But in 1965 the much younger actor appeared in his first English language film taking on the role of Christ.
Ted Neeley – Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
In 1973 Ted Neeley played the role of the messiah in the film version of the musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was a crazy idea but it worked.
Willem Dafoe – The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
In 1988 Martin Scorcese took on the challenge of telling the story of Jesus but he made it even harder by adapting the controversial novel The Last Temptation of Christ. While thee church wasn’t happy with the film, critics praised it and Dafoe’s performance.
Jim Caviezel – The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Mel Gibson’s film about the final hours of Jesus’ life is one of Hollywood’s greatest successes. But it will forever be tied to one Hollywood’s greatest meltdowns when Gibson was arrested for a DUI and went on a drunken anti Jew tirade. Caviezel believes his career has suffered due to this association but his performance was solid and seen by millions.
Diogo Morgado – Son of God (2014)
Originally a History Channel miniseries called The Bible, the sections about Jesus were released theatrically as the film Son of God. The film wasn’t well received by critics but it made a lot more money than expected.
Cliff Curtis – Risen (2016)
This recent film tells the story of a Roman soldier played by Joseph Fiennes tasked with finding the missing body of Jesus after his crucifixion. Fear the Walking Dead‘s Cliff Curtis plays Jesus in a supporting role.
John Turturro – The Big Lebowski (1998)
Maybe he’s not Jesus Christ but he’s still a really entertaining movie Jesus.
Steve Coogan – Hamlet 2 (2008)
In Hamlet 2, Steve Coogan plays a drama teacher who writes his own musical for his students to perform. It’s a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and features Jesus as main character.