Gaius: Good Guy or Bad Guy?

Other than some of the old Roman emperors themselves—we’re looking at you, Nero—does anyone more powerfully represent the political (and painful) oppression first-century Israel faced than a Roman soldier? So, it’s quite the feat The Chosen’s pulled off in getting a good number of you to care about one of them. Because c’mon—admit it: you’re three seasons in and standing at the doorstep of Season 4, and you’re all in on learning how the story’s going to unfold for a Roman soldier named Gaius. 

We bet you didn’t see that coming when you started the series. But here we are.   

The Man Behind the Soldier

To be fair, a big part of the draw to Gaius is the man who portrays him: Kirk B.R. Woller. Woller and Dallas have worked together for something like 25 years. In fact, Woller’s played a role in almost every project Dallas has done. And you can see why. Whether it’s in his work with The Chosen or in other projects that range from Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report to the The X-Files, he’s not afraid to add quirks and personality to whoever he’s portraying. He speaks a thousand words with an upward twitch at the corner of his mouth or by merely blinking his wide-eyed eyes. And he doesn’t shy away from weaving in emotive twists and turns that catch viewers by surprise and often even moves them in ways unexpected. Simply put: Woller’s become a fan favorite. For real—you should have heard the roar from the audience when he walked out on the stage at The Chosen Insiders Convention in October.    

But back to where we started: the character of Gaius has become a fan favorite, too. And while this is due in no small part to Woller’s work, it’s also because of the work put in by the writers of The Chosen

Slaying the Stereotype—and Elevating the Human 

It would have been easy to steer right into the stereotypes many folks have cultivated concerning Roman soldiers—to write every soldier, including Gaius, as some unthinkingly loyal brute for an evil empire, always scowling in the street and itching to swing a sword. But as Woller pointed out when discussing his character at ChosenCon, “Dallas hates stereotypes.” One of the chief goals for all of the writers at The Chosen has been to paint earthy portraits of Jesus, his followers, and the countless others who surrounded him (and them)—and to do so as they remain faithful to the historical accounts that have been handed down to us. And so from the first episode of Season 1, every character a viewer encounters has layer upon layer, because every character is a man or a woman or a child with a backstory filled with experiences that have shaped them for better or for worse (and oftentimes, both). And this includes the ones who were pretty skittish about Jesus. There’s surprising depth to even a Roman soldier, because they’re a human being long before they don the armor and take hold of some title. And that depth demands to be appreciated. 

Which leads us to Gaius…

When you first meet him, he’s in full gear, standing outside of a tax collection booth with the sort of sneer that can only come from contempt for the Jews. But within a handful of scenes, he’s so suddenly protective of a Jewish tax collector named Matthew that you’d think he was Matthew’s father. And just when you’re tempted to think Gaius is nothing more than the puppet of another character, Quintus, the snide and dangerous Roman magistrate in Capernaum and Praetor of Galilee, you spot Gaius turning a bit of a (legal) blind eye to some of what is unfolding with Jesus and his disciples. And there’s more. We’re three seasons in with the guy, and we’ve caught him jovially tying sailor knots with a Jewish fisherman and doling out marriage advice that just so happens to be quite good. 

Even still, The Chosen’s writers have never forgotten that Gaius is a Roman soldier. And so there are still scenes in which he shows flashes of rage, where he isn’t above lying, where he makes things harder for Jesus and his disciples than they need to be. And, well, for those of you who have watched, you know that there’s quite the twist to his story in Season 3. 

This rollercoaster of a journey with Gaius through the first three seasons The Chosen has left many a viewer asking, “Is Gaius a good guy or a bad guy?” Which is great. Because it means the writers of The Chosen have successfully done what they set out to do: they’ve introduced you to an intricate someone who is trying to figure out what on earth to do with Jesus, with the world around him, and even what to do about what’s unfolding in his own home. 

And in answer to that question—“Is Gaius a good guy or a bad guy”—he’s a human being.

        

Season 4 Tickets Available Now

Clashing kingdoms. Rival rulers. The enemies of Jesus close in while His followers struggle to keep up, leaving him to carry the burden alone. Threatened by the reality of Jesus’ growing influence, religious leaders do the unthinkable—ally with their Roman oppressors. As the seeds of betrayal are planted and opposition to Jesus’ message turns violent, he’s left with no alternative but demand his followers RISE UP.

Happy (Disruptive) Thanksgiving!

We know that conversation around the table at Thanksgiving is usually reserved for whatever brings peace and goodwill, like, say, politics. But this Thanksgiving, why not stir things up a bit? Get a little disruptive. It’s not all that hard. All you have to do is talk about a choice scene from The Chosen—and in this article, we’ve given you two (a double serving) that ought to get the job done.

But one quick suggestion first: this will be most effective if you clear out the family heirloom centerpiece that was hand-crafted by your great-great-great grandma and replace it with a TV, so that you can actually play the scenes for your family. (Boom. Already disruptive.)      

Conversation Starter #1

Remember that scene in Season 1 when it becomes quite clear Andrew has not been given the spiritual gift of dancing? And Simon asks Jesus to fix it by way of a miracle? Jesus’s response? “Some things even I cannot do.” Here’s the scene, because don’t forget—that TV is gonna be smack dab in the middle of your table, so you can totally show it:

Now, you’ve got two options on where you go with this one. First of all, people do not like a joking Jesus. They want him stoic and stuffy. So, you could just show the scene, and once you’ve stifled your own laughter, say, “Man, I love how The Chosen shows Jesus telling jokes. Because you know he did. Right, guys? Right? Guys?” 

Or you could go another direction entirely. Maybe your family is totally fine with a joking Jesus, but you know they would not be fine with any jokes about his omnipotence (which is a fancy term for “all-encompassing power”). Show the scene and say, “Oh man, I love how they joke that Jesus is powerful enough to turn water into wine, but he can’t possibly help Andrew pull off the Electric Slide.” The theological debate will be so intense, you could easily slip away and steal the absolute best piece of pie before anyone else can.

Conversation Starter #2

Chances are, even if the rest of your family hasn’t watched The Chosen, they’ve probably seen a scene or two involving Mary Magdalene, which means they probably know a thing or two about her story. But you might have to prep them. Something like:

The Chosen takes seriously that little note in the Gospels that Mary had to have seven demons driven out of her. And this made them wonder if someone that wrecked by demons might have been driven to drinking. So they imagined that struggle into her story.” 

Now, that alone might be enough disruption, because we get a lot of flack for our imagination, as careful as we are with it. But the part of Mary’s story in The Chosen that really got folks worked up was when we had her backslide in Season 2. Not only did we imagine her struggling with alcohol before she encountered Jesus; we imagined her struggling with alcohol after she encountered Jesus. You should show everyone the clip below. On that TV. That’s in the middle of your Thanksgiving feast.

Folks did not like this. Because if we’re all honest, we sort of like our spiritual heroes to take a turn toward the perfect and then stay in that lane. So, give a little backstory on Mary Mags, show the clip, and then say something like, “Anyone have any thoughts on The Chosen making her a bit of a backslider?” Good times.

Anyway, you just go on and give either option above a try, and we think it’s safe to say this’ll be a Thanksgiving to remember. Because it’s gonna feel like the Fourth of July, what with all the fireworks.

It’s the Most Wonderful Tuesday of the Year

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: what’s Tuesday and teal all over?

Oh. Okay. You have heard it. Anyway. Yes. It’s Teal Tuesday. And this year’s Teal Tuesday is Tuesday, November 21, from 4pm to midnight.          

Given that you knew we were talking about Teal Tuesday from the very first sentence, you probably know what on earth it is. But let’s make sure we’re alllll on the same page: Teal Tuesday is our Black Friday. And we’re not gonna argue with you if you want to declare it better than Black Friday. It’s certainly first in line. And hey—speaking of lines—for this, there aren’t any you have to elbow your way through at 5am. Nice, eh? But it’s even nicer than that, because here’s what else you can expect:               

  • A wild, packed-with-surprises 8-hour livestream hosted by Chosen co-founder, Derral Eves, and Chosen Insiders, Chris and Jalein—and available on all our platforms: YouTube, Facebook and The Chosen app
  • A 20 percent discount on all the gifts in our gift store (and by “all” we mean ALL)
  • Pop-in visits from cast members of The Chosen
  • Did you read that last one? pop-in visits from cast members of The Chosen
  • Gift giveaways every hour on the hour—and one very big giveaway at the end 

C’mon. That’s great. And something that great is totally worthy of you grabbing your calendar right now and writing “Teal Tuesday, 4pm-midnight” in that little square marked “November 21.” And oh, man: write it in teal. How meta is that?

See you Tuesday.

Christmas with The Chosen 2023

Some things just go together. Rhythm and blues. Oreos and milk. Fall and football. Hugs and kisses. And how about The Shepherd and The Messengers? You know—the two Chosen Christmas specials? Of course they go together. But here’s the thing: they’ve actually never been together. Until now.

Call it regifting if you like, but we’ve taken these episodes from Christmas past and woven them together (wreath-like) into your Christmas present. Freshly recut and remastered, the two are now one seamless story about the birth of Jesus—Christmas with The Chosen: Holy Night. And they’re coming to a theater near you this holiday season.

Combining the best of old and new, we’ve also worked in six of your favorite musical performances from the past, leading to a first-time-ever performance by Andrea Bocelli and his son, Matteo.

Want to peel back the wrapping paper and take an early peek? Here you go:

Christmas with The Chosen: Holy Night hits theaters for a limited run December 12-17. Tickets are available now at Fathom Events.

Merry Christmas!

Behind the Quote: Come and See

“Come and see.”

This simple phrase changed everything for Nathanael in Season Two, Episode 2 of The Chosen. And those three little words packed quite a punch not only for him, but also for The Chosen viewers. Chances are, you’ve seen that phrase on this website, or maybe on a t-shirt, or even a bumper sticker. Heck, thousands of people have put it on their doorsteps as a welcome mat.

But that phrase didn’t actually originate with us. One of the best things about a historical drama like The Chosen is that we’ve got plenty of source material to pull from. Our writers and consultants scour ancient literature, especially the Bible (duh). And, while you might not see anything there about a fattened goose, this phrase comes directly from the first chapter of John’s gospel when Philip told Nathanael to “come and see.”

The Story of a Skeptic

The story behind “come and see” is, in many ways the story of a skeptic. In the biblical account, it’s awfully hard to miss that Nathanel’s skeptical. But, Nathanael isn’t a skeptic in the traditional sense. He’s actually a faithful, truthful believer. His skepticism comes from that place of truthfulness—here’s yet another guy claiming to be the Messiah. So, when our writers tackle a story like this, they tackle tough questions head on: what could possibly make this type of skeptic drop everything to “come and see”?

When we’re first introduced to Nathanael in The Chosen, he’s a Jewish architect who wants nothing more than to build a synagogue for worship, to do a great thing in God’s name. But it’s not long before that dream literally crashes around him. Everything that could go wrong goes wrong, and Nathanael ends up with nothing to his name. He stumbles out of town, collapses under a fig tree, and turns his blueprints to ash.

The Story of a Skeptic and a Disciple

Here’s the thing. When we said the story behind those three words—“come and see”—is the story of a skeptic, we were holding back just a bit. (If you’re an overachiever and you’ve read our source material in John 1:43-51, you already know this.) The story behind “come and see” is the story of a skeptic named Nathanael and a man named Philip. 

In John’s gospel, It’s clear that Nathanael seems to have been good friends with a man named Philip. And while Nathanael is stumbling to his tree steeped in skepticism, a few miles away, Philip has an encounter with Jesus. And we’re told (source material!) that in the wake of that encounter, Philip becomes a disciple of Jesus—an apprentice-like relationship in the Jewish world. Now, where does Nathanael fit into all of this? Well, remember: they’re good friends. And Nathanael decides to nudge his skeptical friend just a bit in the direction of Jesus.

And there’s those three words: “Come and See.” Lifted right from Season Two Episode 2 of The Chosen, which was lifted right from our source material of John 1:44-51. “Come and see” is Philip’s winsome (and frankly, chill) way of saying to a skeptic, “Maybe just give him a chance? Maybe just come and spend some time with him, see what he has to say and what he can do, and go from there?” And according to the story that’s been handed down to us by John, Nathanael goes.

The Story of a Skeptic Who Becomes a Disciple

All of the source material we work off of—the Bible and other ancient resources—tells us that Nathanael pushed past his skepticism and became a disciple himself. That’s why if you watch the rest of The Chosen from Season Two, Episode 2 onward, you’re going to see Nathanael always right there, always in the mix of what’s going on. And he’s there because someone said, “Come and See.” Three words rewrote Nathanael’s story, and the reality of that story captured the imagination of millions of viewers around the world.

The Teaser for Season 4 Is Here!

“It was intense. All I could think was: they keep getting better and better.” 

Our first teaser trailer for Season 4 just dropped at The Chosen Insiders Conference, and you could have cut the electricity in the room with Matthew’s spoon. (Yes, we just invented a new idiom. Also: don’t cut electricity with a spoon. Or anything, now that we think about it.) 

Dallas said Season 4 is the “most mature season yet”…yeah, it’s gonna be a gut-punch of a narrative arc. And, wow. Yep. Punched us right in the gut. Here’s what a few Chosen Insiders had to say after the teaser trailer #1 dropped:  

“I’m excited, but I’m also sad at the same time, because you know some of what’s coming.” 

“From the moment the teaser started, I teared up. You could feel the weight like never before.” 

“I can tell it’s going to be an extremely emotional and spiritual experience in Season 4. I had goosebumps from start to finish.” 

That’s something my friends will watch.” 

Now, if you’re currently knee-deep in weeping and gnashing your teeth because you weren’t at #ChosenCon, dry those eyes and stop with the weird teeth thing—because you can watch it right here and now.

You Really Ought to Be a Chosen Insider

We very much appreciate that you’re reading this right now. We do. But here’s what you should be doing instead —joining The Chosen Insiders Facebook Group.

Because, dear and loyal reader, we’re gonna go out on a limb and guess you would love …
…breaking news about The Chosen whenever it happens; like this news that broke not too long ago:

 

…on-the-ground updates and thank-yous from cast members.

 

…behind-the-scenes videos and pics; like maybe, say, a video of an actor goofing around once he walks off camera or a photo of our cast being “model” disciples.

 

Become Chosen Insider

(Wait—are you still reading this instead of joining The Chosen Insiders Facebook Group?)
(Because when you join The Chosen Insiders Facebook Group, you’ll have…)

…a seat at the table for hundreds of conversation threads that somehow manage to be informative, meaningful, or at least hilarious like this:

Become Chosen Insider - It Was A Joke Shmuel

Okay. We see that you’re still here reading, and frankly, we admire your perseverance. But seriously: go join The Chosen Insiders Facebook Group. Everything you get over there is truly the inside scoop on what’s happening with The Chosen because it’s coming straight from our team. So, go. What else are you going to do? You’re about to run out of stuff to read in this post.

Who Plays Jesus in The Chosen?

You would think casting the lead role for a television series about the life of Jesus would have been a tedious process for Dallas Jenkins, creator of The Chosen. Truth is? It wasn’t. He had just one person in mind: Jonathan Roumie 

Figuring you probably want to know a little more about the guy who plays Jesus, we’ve put together a short FAQ that’s coming your way in the form of an imagined conversation between us and you. Ready? Here we go: 

Hold up — did you just say Dallas only had one person in mind when he was casting Jesus?! 

Yep. And here’s why: Jonathan and Dallas had already worked together. A few years before The Chosen was even a thing, Dallas made a short film for his church’s Easter service about the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. And we’re going to give you exactly one guess as to who played Jesus in that video… 

Jonathan Roumie? 

Such a good guesser! In Dallas’s own words and you can hear this for yourself here there was something he saw in Jonathan that captured “the tenderness and the masculinity” of Jesus. And Dallas loved Jonathan’s work in this first video so much that the two of them went on to film several other vignettes about the life of Jesus.   

So, I assume Jonathan was a working actor before The Chosen — and even before those vignettes he filmed with Dallas? 

Yes, he was.. He graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York with a degree in filmmaking before he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full-time. 

Wait — have I seen him in anything else on TV? 

Chances are, you have. He’s had roles in Chicago Med, The Mindy Project, The Good Wife, Law & Order, and the NCIS franchise. But even with all of those guest spots, Jonathan was struggling to make it as an actor and was this close to calling it quits. He reflected on those darker days in an interview he did with Dallas not too long ago:  

“I was at a point where no matter how hard I tried to control my circumstances, it just wasn’t enough. … I literally got to my knees and said, ‘God, if you want this to work if I’m here doing what I’m supposed to be doing on this planet you’ve got to help me, because I can’t do this on my own.”  

And then the phone rang: It was Dallas. He was going to do this thing called The Chosen and wondered if Jonathan might be interested. Two months later, they were filming Season 1. 

I’m picking up from that story that Jonathan is a Christian. Is that right? 

Yes, he’s a devout Catholic. He’s even met the pope. But let’s go a little deeper here. Jonathan will be the first to tell you that who he is now as a believer — at the halfway point of filming The Chosen — is light years away from who he was at the start of filming. He’s described the whole experience as something of a reconversion. And really, how could it not end up being that? As he points out here, he “takes great pains to try and hear God’s voice throughout every step of this process, whether when filming or in between seasons,” and he and Dallas work tirelessly to “keep the set a sacred space.” You can’t have that level of intimacy with God and not be changed by it.  

With faith being so prominent in his life — and with acting being something he wanted to do from an early age — I gotta ask: Did he have early aspirations to play Jesus at some point? 

As a child, he never stood up and declared, “I — I — shall portray Jesus in the first multi-season television series about the life of Christ!” But when he was eleven years old, he did re-enact the crucifixion in his Long Island backyard for his family. Like, he built a cross, stained it with blood (read: red paint), made a crown of thorns out of reeds, and carried said cross through the yard to his own makeshift Golgotha by the garage. So, he had it in him.  

But even with all of that in his background, … remember that first video he filmed with Dallas? The one about the two thieves? Jonathan actually wanted to be one of the thieves. He didn’t want to play Jesus!           

Seriously? Why? 

Not enough lines. 

That’s gold. 

Well, he has a lot of lines now. So, it kind of worked out for him. 

Speaking of his work on The Chosen, I have a few questions about what that’s been like for him. Let’s start here: What does Jonathan like most about playing Jesus on the show?       

In just about any interview Jonathan has done, he’s offered up his appreciation for how the show is not afraid to,— in his own words,— “delve into the possibilities of what Jesus’s humanity could have been like.” He also loves how “[the show’s] not limited to two hours to try to cram everything in. … That [there’s] the opportunity to let [the story of Jesus] breathe a little bit.”  

He also enjoys the opportunities to wade into the waters of humor. He and Dallas are both convinced Jesus had a sense of humor (we are too), so they’ve thoughtfully played around a bit since those early vignettes. And not only has the audience received the jokes warmly, we’ve also lost count of how many viewers have thanked Dallas and Jonathan for showing them a Jesus who laughed and made others laugh. 

But in answering your question about what Jonathan likes most about playing Jesus on the show, he’ll tell you it’s the impact he knows it’s having and —how his work is helping people experience the authentic Jesus. In fact, his experience on The Chosen has changed how he approaches all other work. “The things that I want to do are geared more toward impact,” he said in a recent interview. “I feel God has tapped me to do things that extend beyond the show and to lend my voice to things I would have never had an opportunity [to take part in].”   

I bet you know what question is coming next. 

What’s most challenging about the work for Jonathan? 

Such a good guesser! Yes. What’s been most challenging for him about portraying Jesus in The Chosen? 

That really is the question, isn’t it? We mean this when we say that you really should check out this conversation between Dallas and Jonathan. And once you’re done watching that conversation, you should check out this second conversation the two of them had a little more recently. But since we’re having this nice little conversation, just the two of us, here are two moments in that first video that show us just how hard this work can be for Jonathan: 

First, there’s a moment where he confesses it’s impossible for any actor to truly portray any person from history, let alone God in flesh. As he says to Dallas, “I never feel that I have succeeded at being Jesus. To me that’s impossible to ever achieve!” So, the guy experiences quite the humbling on a daily basis. 

But second, Jonathan isn’t only playing God. He’s playing the only perfect man to walk the earth. Jonathan is desperate for people to always keep in mind that he is Jonathan of New York and not Jesus of Nazareth. Another confession from Jonathan in that first conversation with Dallas:  

“It [gets] a little scary at times, because you want people to know I am human. I’m completely flawed. I’m probably one of the most flawed people on this entire project! But here I am, because this is where God put me for reasons unbeknownst to me. And all I’m going to do is show up, try to serve Him, and be the best representation of His love on Earth that I can be.”       

It has to be hard. Has to. So, how does Jonathan even get to a place where he feels he can do this work of portraying Jesus? 

We’d refer you again to Jonathan’s two conversations with Dallas, available here and here, . but to summarize them in his own words:,  

Surrender’ is the name of the game.”  

Or put a little differently, “I’m trying to empty myself of everything that is ‘me’, in service to being open as a channel for the Spirit to come and work through me. … I take great pains to try and hear God’s voice throughout every step of this process, whether we’re filming or in between seasons.”  

What Jonathan has realized is that while he can’t ever hope to capture the divinity of Jesus, he can work within the humanity of Jesus, and he finds peace in that challenge. “The best that I can do is try to just [humanly] experience everything … every emotion … but on a much more intense level,” he says.. “So, whether it’s mercy or compassion, I try to have exponential amounts of mercy and compassion.”  

That’s how he tries to come as close as he can to capturing the humanity of Jesus in any given scene. And in the moments where he wonders what on Earth he’s gotten himself into — who on Earth he thinks he even is to take all of this on he simply thinks to himself, “I know I’m here for a reason. … I’m here and somebody else isn’t here., and I have to take that into account and know that God’s trusted me to represent His Son in this project. And I can’t dishonor that.”                 

Okay. Can I ask a bunch of rapid-fire questions to close this thing out? 

Sure! 

How old is Jonathan? 

49.

How tall is he? 

Six-foot even. 

Is he actually Jewish? 

No. His father is Syro-Lebanese and his mother is Irish. (Real quick — do you not have access to Google?) 

Is he married? 

No. 

What’s his favorite color? 

What Sherwin-Williams calls “Sea-of-Galilee Blue.” (We made that up. We don’t know.)    

Does he have a best friend? 

What? 

Does he need a best friend? 

This is getting weird. 

Fine. Back to Chosen stuff. A lot of actors have taken on the role of Jesus. Does he have a favorite? 

We do know he’s a big, big fan of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth TV series, and that starred Robert Powell as Jesus. 

Is there anything he is not looking forward to in seasons to come? 

I mean, it’s going to get pretty heavy, right? In his own words, when talking to Dallas about filming the events of Passion Week he says,: “It’s one of those things that I just choose not to think about at this point. … To imagine all these relationships that Jesus has with these people … and then all of a sudden not having that ….” 

Are there any videos I can watch in which it’s just Jonathan and Dallas chatting about what it’s like to play Jesus in The Chosen? 

Are you for real right now? 

Just playin’. I think that’s all the questions I’ve got for the moment. Unless you want to circle back to the whole “does he need a best friend” thing. 

 

Cool. 

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