Roma Downey takes on the role of Mother Mary

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Derry born actress Roma Downey has revealed how prayer helped her find the man who would play Jesus in a new television series ‘The Bible’ - to be aired on the History Channel.

Roma, who heads a large international cast in the series as Mother Mary, created ‘The Bible’ with her husband of five years Mark Burnett - internationally renowned as the creator of ‘The Apprentice.’

Married since 2007, the couple conceived the idea for the series based on Scripture three years ago.

“I’ve loved Jesus all my life,” Roma told The Christian Post. “It’s a passion project for Mark and myself.”

“Casting began with prayer,” the actress said, noting the challenge and significance of selecting the perfect actor to fill the role of Jesus in the series. We had been scouting locations in Morocco and were ‘looking for Jesus.’ Six weeks before filming began, we still didn’t have Jesus.”

Fortunately, Downey and Burnett came across the name of Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado.

“He is a beautiful person,” Roma’s husband Mark said. “He has a gentleness and humanity about him.”

“‘The Bible’ is going to be seen by millions of people, and it looks like a $100 million feature film,” said the creator of “The Apprentice.”

“To us, as a family, we love the Bible. This is not a TV show to us. It’s images and sound and sacred text that people will still watch, way after our grandchildren are old people.”

Since the entire Bible can’t be covered in 10 hours, the miniseries, which was filmed in Morocco, focuses on a select group of stories and features such compelling figures as Abraham, Moses and David. Some stories had to be compressed for artistic purposes.

“In the end, what we’ve done is a meta-narrative, a grand narrative of emotionally connected stories. We know we’re not qualified to teach the Bible.

“We’re qualified to be good television producers and storytellers.

“By telling these emotionally connected, big stories, hopefully millions of people will reopen their Bibles,” Burnett says.

“My husband thinks that the word ‘no’ means ‘new opportunity,” Downey outlined what she said was Burnett’s perseverance to raise the money and make the series. “This will go out into the corners of the world and we are very humbled by it.”

The series sees stars such as “Game of Thrones” actors Sean Bean and Nonso Anozie, while Roma Downey herself portrays Mary, the mother of Jesus.

“The Bible” is set to air on The History Channel following its current and final stage of editing, with the last episode in the series airing on Easter Sunday.”