Interview with Killing Jesus star Kelsey Grammar, , 3-hour movie premieres on National Geographic Channel, Sunday March 29, 2015 at 8pm *** 3 Stars
By Gabrielle Pantera
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2015/3/29 – “Herod is the guy who killed the kids,” says Killing Jesus star Kelsey Grammer. “That’s what I remember from my schooling as a boy in Sunday School and all of that. So I never really had a real vision of him. An odd thing occurred when I was in a London hotel just before I started shooting. I opened up a book, one of those decorative books that are on the shelves, and it was about history. And when I opened it up, the first thing I saw was King Herod’s palace. It was a giant edifice. I had no idea that he had such a, kind of, remarkable career as a monarch, as it were. Politically, he was in between the Romans and the Hebrews, representing the Hebrews but basically appointed by the Romans. So he was always worried about being killed, which I thought was fascinating. So that humanized him to me in a lot of ways.”
“I discovered that he killed some of his own children, and this was just what he did,” says Grammer. “He was a killer. And that actually helped me to understand that he wasn’t necessarily evil. He was just a guy that had to do some very despicable things to maintain balance, power, all sorts of things in his own life. Certainly, the option for him was not desirable. So it helped me perform the piece and everything, and, then, the character — and, then, we shot the first scene. He needed to go to bed, and I thought — he wakes up with this vision — a guy that’s afraid of being killed all the time would sleep with a weapon. So I said, “Give me a dagger.” And they gave me a dagger, and everything came to life.”
King Herod (Kelsey Grammer) is having nightmares. He consults with three wise men who tell him a young boy will be the death of him. Herod orders a mass execution of baby boys in Nazareth, but he doesn’t know he didn’t get all the babies as Jesus’ parents fled to Egypt.
Killing Jesus is the third original scripted event for National Geographic The three hour movie will premiere globally in 171 countries and in 45 different languages. It’s the third collaboration with executive producer Ridley Scott and Scott Free Productions as well as with Bill O’Reilly.
Killing Jesus was shot entirely in the Moroccan desert. There were 250 members of the crew, more than 4,500 extras and 93 speaking roles. The cast is quite diverse. It’s directed by Christopher Menaul. Written by Walon Green. Produced by Scott Free Productions. Bill O’Reilly, Mr. Green, Mary Lisio, Heather Moran, Charlie Parsons, Ridley Scott, Teri Weinberg and David W. Zucker, executive producers.
Twitter: @NatGeoChannel, #KillingJesus, @haazsleiman, @KelseyGrammer