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'Risen' Star Joseph Fiennes Reveals Why He Chose To Star in Upcoming Faith-Based Film

( [email protected] ) Feb 17, 2016 03:41 PM EST
English actor Joseph Fiennes recently revealed why he decided to participate in the faith-based film "Risen," which will hit theaters this Friday.
Joseph Fiennes stars in the upcoming Biblical epic, "Risen". Sony Pictures

English actor Joseph Fiennes recently revealed why he decided to participate in the highly-anticipated faith-based film "Risen," which hits theaters this Friday.

Produced by AFFIRM Films, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, "Risen" isn't your typical "Jesus" movie: the film is seen through the eyes of Clavius (Fiennes), an ambitious Roman tribune, who is charged by Pontius Pilate to investigate the rumors of the risen Jesus and locate his body in an attempt to prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

Throughout the film, Clavius finds himself caught between belief and unbelief as he encounters familiar characters such as Jesus' disciples and Mary Magdalene, and is forced to re-examine his beliefs when he discovers that Jesus is, in fact, alive.

"I do believe the film gets it right in terms of Scripture. Those who feel that what is right in Scripture is right in the film will feel that there's a good balance there," Fiennes told reporter Alissa Wilkinson during an interview posted Monday with Christianity Today. "The mindset, the conditioning, the belief system, the fallibility, the brilliance, and the faults in human nature [shown in Clavius] will always be modern. It's got to be. That's how I think stories survive."

Fiennes, best known for his role in the hit film "Shakespeare in Love," explained that while Clavius is a fictional character, his dramatic conversion experience is a compelling example of how faith can soften even the hardest of hearts.

"It's a big thing to believe in Roman gods and be confronted with what Clavius witnessed, and then to become a full convert. I believe what you witness as an audience member is the seeds of conversion (if you want to use that word)," Fiennes told Wilkinson. "But certainly he's at a crossroads; he can't go back and he can't move forward. He's been irrevocably changed. and we can only guess which way he would go. ... Roman brilliance is up against the spiritual mind of Christ and the disciples. However strong and powerful you are, that connection, that spirituality, that utter faith and belief is impenetrable."

During an interview with The Gospel Herald, "Risen" producer Rich Peluso reiterated that "Risen" remains faithful to Scripture while presenting an epic cinematic event, ensuring it will inspire and encourage both faith-based and secular audiences.

"For Christians, it doesn't feel tired at all; it's a unique experience to see the story that we know and love through the eyes of a non-believer that's on his own journey," Peluso said of the upcoming film. "For the unchurched, it is probably the most accessible story of the life of Christ on film. You can come into the story and experience it without feeling like someone is trying to preach at you, because the lead character is so skeptical about what's going on. It really is a manhunt to disprove the rumor of this risen man; you get pulled into this manhunt thriller."

While the story of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection is well-known, Peluso emphasized that "Risen" allows audiences to view the film with fresh eyes: "Encountering the stories of when God intersects with humankind holds endless blessings and encouragement," he said. "We're to remember this and experience it afresh. That's one thing we're hearing from Christians that encounter this story; it feels very fresh and new to them, and they're picking up insights and experiences they'd not had before in engaging the story. Like other great lessons and stories and our culture and our faith, it's important to relive the lessons who grew up with, because they continue to hold things for us in our life."

"Risen" also stars Tom Felton, Peter Firth, and Cliff Curtis. To learn more, visit www.risen-movie.com.