As film aficionados, much like Danny Trejo, we’ve been watching Cliff Curtis for years! From being the unnamed character actor who popped up unexpectedly in a ton of flicks, all through his most recent gig as one of the leads in AMC’s FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, this man’s made quite a name for himself – leading him to a solid Hollywood career. Most notably, ethnic-based roles have been his expertise. From Latino, to Arab, and all sorts of flavors in-between, this New Zealander’s unique, ruggedly handsome looks and raw talent has allowed him to shine. So much, the level’s been raised way, way up. How far up? Let’s just say it’s heavenly.
Ready for this one? (Drum roll) Mr. Curtis will now walk a mile in (pronouncing name in Spanish) Jesus’ sandals!
“That’s a big one” states the almighty one in a recent phone chat I had with the man. Surprised about how the role landed on his lap, “it came from nowhere. Didn’t come from usual routes.” As he went on waiting to assure himself it wasn’t a mistake (as it’s happened in the past), he embraced the idea and started looking into what would be one of the most unique roles in his career.
Taking in RISEN’s narrative, he notices it’s a different take upon a story we’ve seen and heard about many times before. Starring alongside Joseph Fiennes, RISEN follows the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius (Fiennes), a powerful Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton), are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.
As someone who personally confesses by saying “my first superhero was Jesus,” it’s without question this man had some major shoes to fill. Still in a stunned, but enthusiastic mood about it, “I had to figure out how to do it.”
One of the most vital stand-outs about his historic knowledge is “Jesus was a carpenter, I was a builder, so I can relate to that. I can rationalize being a working class builder, but being the son of God is another thing. It’s a question of the divine which was a stretch because I’m not divine.”
Elaborating deeper within the realm of his holy role, “I had to set my ego aside. Had to focus on the impact Jesus has had on so many souls, or lives, or spirituality, or religions of the world.” Mr. Curtis’ soul was then pushed into a palpable abyss as he confesses having gone through a “cleansing process.” Taking it to holy extremes, “I took a vow of silence and lived on my own for a month. I cooked my own meals, and didn’t speak to anyone to prepare for the role.” (This also includes his family!)
Once ready and on set, there was no stopping the monster. As a Catholic, a lot of his past goes into play as well and surely helped this man spread his shining light of talent among a role that’s been portrayed so many times, but never quite like Cliff Curtis. That’s something we can ALL rest assured is fact! Hoping everyone will “go away with a little more love in their life” pretty much is the end goal for Mr. Curtis once souls embark and embrace RISEN as a piece that stands on its own.
Humble, intelligent, and full of charm, Cliff Curtis is someone we will be seeing a lot of in the coming years. Coincidentally, in his upcoming film in April titled THE DARK HORSE, Mr. Curtis mentions his connection with his character in that movie who’s bipolar and believes in many ways he was Jesus. The links are interesting and I know I for sure I cannot wait to soak both for those roles in!
RISEN opens in theaters nationwide Friday, 2.19.16!
If interested, below you’ll find rawdio from my extended, uncut conversation with Jesus (pronouncing name in Spanish):