National Geographic Channel has announced that its epic three-hour movie event Killing Jesus, based on the 2013 New York Times best-seller by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, will premiere on Palm Sunday, March 29, at 8pm ET/PT.
Killing Jesus will also be broadcast in 45 languages across 171 countries and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo. The film marks the third collaboration between NGC, Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions and co-executive producer Bill O’Reilly. The trio’s other film projects, 2013’s Emmy-nominated Killing Kennedy and Emmy-nominated Killing Lincoln, represent the two most-watched programs in the network’s history.
Both book and film offer an examination of Jesus’ life and death in a historical rather than theological context, presenting the person O’Reilly calls “the most famous human being who ever lived” as an eloquent everyman whose most supernatural power is the ability to unite thousands with a message of peace in a savage time.
“The movies that have been done about Jesus from King of Kings on have basically been from the point of view of Jesus,” the film’s Oscar-winning screenwriter, Walon Green, explained at a January press event. “This is a film that’s really placing a man in his times.” And examining how, almost 2,000 years after his death, 2.2 billion people worldwide (including 77 percent of the U.S. population) still follow his teachings.
National Geographic Channel’s most ambitious film project to date, Killing Jesus filmed entirely in the Moroccan desert with a crew of 250, more than 4,500 extras and 93 speaking roles filled by actors representing Lebanon, Morocco, Czech Republic, Ireland, Great Britain, Israel, Canada, Syria, Australia and the United States.
Leading the cast are Kelsey Grammer as King Herod the Great, True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate and Haaz Sleiman (The Visitor) as Jesus of Nazareth. Rufus Sewell (Hercules), John Rhys Davies (Indiana Jones), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage) and The Night Shift‘s Eoin Macken costar.
Check back soon for Channel Guide‘s extended coverage of Killing Jesus — including our first-hand account from the Moroccan sets — here and in the March issue of Channel Guide Magazine.
Killing Jesus premieres March 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel in the United States and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo.