Nat Geo's Killing Jesus Will Star More Famous People Than You Would Think

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s books have all been bestsellers, and have had the added laud of getting turned into original movies on the National Geographic channel. Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy both did well enough to spur on the pickup of Killing Jesus, and on Monday, the network announced who will star in the Christian-based story. Cast members include Kelsey Grammer, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Stephen Moyer, Rufus Sewell and John Rhys Davies, as well as plenty of other familiar faces.

Nurse Jackie’s Haz Sleiman is actually set to play Jesus, while the other big names will surround the character in other famous roles. According to THR, Grammer will play King Herod, a leader who tried to kill the baby Jesus. Moyer is also signed on in a big role, and will play Pontius Pilate in the expansive TV movie (it’s too bad he won’t get to play God, since he's already played a vampire god). Sewell and Davies will both play high priests and Chriqui has been cast as Herod’s ex-wife, who will play into the death of John the Baptist. Speaking of the latter, relative unknown Abhin Galeya has joined Killing Jesus as the well-known prophet.

The cast will be rounded out by Defiance actress Stephanie Leonidas and The Night Shift’s Eoin Macken, as well as Aneurin Barnard, Vernon Dobtcheff, Tamsin Egerton, John Lynch, Joe Doyle and Alexis Rodney. The movie has been in the works since 2013, and was announced even before O’Reilly and Dugard’s book hit shelves in September of that year. The book was so prematurely popular that Nat Geo knew it had a hit on its hands before the title was even released in book form, and it’s no surprise that a slew of famous faces have joined the TV movie.

On the creative end, frequent TV direct Chris Menaul (The Forsyte Saga, Ripper Street) will helm the TV movie. The Wild Bunch writer Walon Green is adapting Killing Jesus for the small screen.

Despite being announced quite some time ago, Killing Jesus isn’t expected to air on Nat Geo until 2015. The cable channel hasn’t given the movie an official premiere date, but we do know it will air worldwide. Deals have already been made to air the movie in 171 countries, and in 45 different languages. The successes of Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln also indicate that Killing Jesus will find a substantial audience. Plus Killing Jesus could bring in an additional religious audience, to boot.

We'll probably be hearing a lot more about the TV movie in the coming months, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.