Finished about a year ago, the well-crafted, four-part docuseries Jonathan & Jesus has just landed on Amazon Prime Video.
It follows actor Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus on the hit Gospels-based series The Chosen, as he travels to Rome and Paris, meets fans and fellow celebrities -- and Pope Francis -- and talks about how he’s dealing with the sudden onrush of worldwide fame.
The Former Struggling Actor at the Center of a Global Hit
At 49, Roumie, a devout Catholic, pursued acting for a while in Los Angeles, with only limited success. But, a prior job with The Chosen creator Dallas Jenkins got him his current gig, which has turned into a phenomenon.
The Chosen has become a hit with Christians (and some non-Christians) around the world. Despite being an independent production created by non-union writers, it's found its way onto multiple streaming services and even onto broadcast network The CW.
As far as I can tell, this is a TV first -- let alone for a show that's about Jesus, a topic actively avoided by many in mainstream entertainment.
As Jonathan & Jesus shows, Roumie's fame has shot to astronomic levels. From an underemployed actor in Hollywood, he's meeting with the pope, headlining conferences, and interacting with faith and world leaders.
And the show only premiered in 2019, on an app.
Talking to Roumie About Jonathan & Jesus
Last week, I had a Zoom chat with Roumie. The whole thing is embedded below, but I did ask him how he manages to keep body and soul together in the midst of this whirlwind.
It takes practice and discipline and boundaries and lots and lots of prayer. I pray a lot. I try to spend as much time as I can alone in prayer with the Lord.
When I asked what "in prayer" meant for him, Roumie said:
Sure, it means for me, it's going to Mass, saying the Rosary. It's going to a chapel, it's adoration. It's sitting in a pew in an empty church saying a Rosary or praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet, or just talking to Jesus, just being like, "What's up, yo?" And yeah. And just inevitably, I get recharged from that and find just inner peace, you know? And then you go back out into the world and then every, all that gets undone, and then you gotta go back to prayer again.
Here's the rest (where he also wishes a happy birthday to FTP National Director Father David Guffey, C.S.C., a consultant on The Chosen and a participant in its Bible Roundtables):
Looking Back Is Great, But What About Season Four of The Chosen?
One of the bolder moves by The Chosen has been to release itself theatrically, as Fathom Events. What began with a couple of Christmas specials morphed into season premieres and finales showing first on the big screen.
For the upcoming season four, ALL the episodes will make their debuts in theaters, starting with the first three on Feb. 1. Click here for tickets.
Season 4 is billed as clashing kingdoms, rival rulers. The enemies of Jesus close in while His followers struggle to keep up, leaving Him to carry the burden alone. Season 4 picks up from Season 3’s cliffhanger where Christ walked on water.
The rollout of Season 4 in theaters will begin with a two-week run of Episodes 1-3 on Feb. 1, 2024, followed by Episodes 4-6 in theaters beginning Feb. 15, and Episodes 7-8 beginning Feb. 29 via Fathom Events in the U.S. and Canada. The premiere episodes will also be released in theaters in LATAM, the UK, Poland, Australia, and New Zealand via an array of distributors.
As a bonus, here's a chat I did with Father Guffey about his work on The Chosen:
Image: Jonathan Roumie. PHOTO: Courtesy of Steven Schwartz
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.