Entertainment and Arts

‘The Chosen’ Aussie Cast Member George Xanthis Says Playing John is “Meditative”

By: Laura Bennett

With season four currently in production, The Chosen has continued to gain fans as it dramatises the life of Jesus and his disciples, extending its reach on Netflix and on US broadcast network The CW, thanks to a new distribution deal.

It’s astounding to consider the success of what’s still a crowdfunded show, and its ability to cut-through with the gospel message in an entertainment age that’s largely resistant to faith-based content.

The Chosen’s president of production, Mark Sourian (Need for Speed, A Dog’s Purpose), credits that success to the fans who fuel it.

“People are starved of a kind of entertainment traditional outlets aren’t making,” Mark said in an interview. “That’s why the crowdfunding works.”

The Chosen also sets itself apart in how it reflects the Bible narrative alongside expanded scenes outside the pages of scripture, with series writer Ryan Swanson (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) “looking for a new way into the story to make what’s inevitable feel unexpected”.

“[The Chosen’s] simple twist was to be able to imagine the lives of the disciples beyond scripture,” Ryan said.

Audiences in Non-Christian Nations

The series has also found audiences in countries without a predominant Christian faith, and with viewers who are distinctly non-religious, which Australian George Xanthis (John) finds encouraging.

“People were just intrigued by the historical storytelling of what we’re doing,” George said. “But then alongside that what Jesus is saying is often verbatim from the Bible.

“Anybody can live [by His words]. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your denomination is, when Jesus preaches love, it’s beautiful.”

After four-and-a-half years on the show, filming six to seven months at a time, George has also been personally impacted by the series through the “meditative” quality of his scenes with Jesus and the deeper appreciation they’ve given him of Jesus’ teachings.

“I grew up Greek Orthodox, but I wouldn’t say I was the most religious person,” George said.

“But take, after take, after take, I’ve been listening to this person preach and it’s so impactful… the messages about love and acceptance and inclusion.

“I knew about Jesus coming from a history in the Greek Orthodox faith but hearing it in this way – which I hope our audience hear in the same way – is definitely a highlight.”

Breaking Ground in Madagascar

The Chosen broke more new ground this week, becoming the first American TV show dubbed in the local language of Madagascar after the President said he wanted the series to be seen by his country.

In footage shown on The Chosen’s Instagram page, 3000 orphans, who live in a country where 75 per cent of the region has no electricity or exposure to TV or movies, got to watch Abigail (one of the “little children”) meet Jesus for the first time.

“A Jesus these orphans were moved by because he, like them, brushes his teeth in the river, makes his own food, and carves wood,” The Chosen’s Instagram page reads.

“Words we wrote, performances we captured, and a scene we filmed, because of contributions by you, made 3000 orphans laugh.”

Season four of The Chosen is currently in production, with Season 3 now available on DVD and The Chosen app.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Actor George Xanthis, Supplied

About the Author: Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.

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