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Take a rare, behind the scenes look on set of 'The Chosen'

Posted at 8:21 AM, Jun 07, 2024

GOSHEN, Utah — There is a remarkable thing happening with a streaming series you’ve probably heard of. Maybe you’re even a huge fan.

"The Chosen" is now in its fifth season. It dramatizes the life of Jesus Christ, and those who knew him personally. This groundbreaking historical drama has more than 200 million viewers worldwide. In fact, it has become a landmark production with a fiercely loyal following.

The show is the brainchild of director and co-writer Dallas Jenkins. It got off the ground in its first season with crowdfunding. He had no idea it would get this big.

“What’s funny,” he said, “Is I didn’t have any expectations. So the fact that the show has grown as big as it has, obviously, is beyond something that I could have imagined. But I also wouldn’t say I’m surprised. God can do anything.”

Actor Jonathan Roumie plays Jesus. He said, “People are desperate and hungry for the presence of God in their lives, and in the culture and entertainment they consume. The human soul, the human spirit recognizes truth when it sees it.”

The series is shot in Texas and on a set just outside Goshen, Utah, where the realism and details of the depiction of Old Jerusalem are breathtaking. But it isn’t just the set that’s realistic.

Actress Elizabeth Tabish plays the role of Mary Magdalene.

“All of these characters are deeply flawed, and have messy lives. It shows how Jesus transforms that, instead of everything being sort of already perfect,” she said.

Jenkins adds, “I would contend that the majority of Jesus movies and miniseries that I’ve seen, we so focused on the divinity, that there was almost no humanity. And he felt distant, Jesus felt formal, felt like someone we couldn’t access. And so by focusing on the humanity in the show, that has really allowed people to appreciate the divinity even more.”

He continues, “In our show, Jesus still does miracles. He still asserts that he is God. He is still perfect and sinless. So those things don’t change. Those things are there. I’m not sacrificing that on any level. But by stressing that he also brushes his teeth and washes his hands in a river and that he also cleans his own wounds, and that he laughs with his friends and that he did a miracle for as, a favor to his mom. You know, those things are real, too. And by stressing those, I think it enhances both the divinity and the humanity at the same time."

The number of people working on The Chosen is now in the hundreds. It has become a huge undertaking.

“My job is to make sure that the cast and crew and myself, when we are on set and making the show, that it doesn't matter whether there's one person watching, 1,000 people watching, a million, or now with over 100 million, that doesn't change what we do on the set," Jenkins reflected. "So, no matter how big the show grows, outside of what we're doing, this must never change.”

With the success of the show has come some challenges. A contract dispute with Angel Studios, the show’s distributor, held up the release of Season Four until Sunday, June 2, 2024, and resulted in the end of the contract between The Chosen and Angel Studios.

In making the much-anticipated announcement last week, Jenkins said, “We don't take pleasure in this. And I want to thank Angel and the Harmon Brothers for their extraordinary efforts for helping launch the show. But we came to the conclusion that we simply had no choice for the future of this company and the show, [that the contract end].”

It’s clear that for those involved in the show, The Chosen is a work of passion. Jenkins isn’t concerned about the praise of the world. Taking a lesson from the New Testament, he said all he’s trying to do is provide the “five loaves and two fishes”.

“God’s responsible for the multiplication. If I start thinking about trying to gain more praise, or avoid criticism, it's going to cripple me. All I can concentrate on is pleasing God, pleasing my wife, and family. And that's about it. Everything after that is not up to me, and not anything I can worry about.”

The Chosen is slated for seven seasons and occupies nearly every second of Jenkins’ time and attention.

"I just want people around the world regardless of their faith journey, regardless of what denomination they're from, to look at this and be focused on the stories of Jesus, and to think maybe those folks who encountered him and had their lives changed are similar to me," he said. "And maybe I can have the same experience.”

When asked whether he’d consider an eighth season or beyond, Jenkins said once season seven is done, he’s going to take a nap “for about a year”. He said The Chosen has truly taken every ounce of his energy. But it’s clear he gets great joy out of it, even if it is exhausting.

You can watch The Chosen on many different streaming sources, and Jenkins promises it will always be free to watch on The Chosen app. It’s available for free on Goggle Play or the App Store.