NPR logo

Here's A Revelation: 'The Passion' Is Seal's First Acting Gig

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/470870958/471161760" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Here's A Revelation: 'The Passion' Is Seal's First Acting Gig

Television

Here's A Revelation: 'The Passion' Is Seal's First Acting Gig

Here's A Revelation: 'The Passion' Is Seal's First Acting Gig

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/470870958/471161760" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

"It is a huge production and it is a lot of pressure," Seal says of The Passion, "but that's what we crave as artists." Michael Becker/FOX hide caption

toggle caption
Michael Becker/FOX

"It is a huge production and it is a lot of pressure," Seal says of The Passion, "but that's what we crave as artists."

Michael Becker/FOX

On this Palm Sunday, Fox will air a show called The Passion. It's the latest in a string of live musical TV events, and this time network executives are taking a chance on the Bible.

The Passion is the story of the last hours of Jesus Christ, and Sunday's production will take place on location in New Orleans. Some of the scenes were taped in advance, but others will be live, including a procession of 1,000 people carrying a cross through the streets.

There's a whole host of talent involved: Singer Trisha Yearwood will play Mary, actor Jencarlos Canela will take on the role of Jesus, and the man who orders Jesus' death, Pontius Pilate, will be played by British singer-songwriter Seal. In fact, The Passion is Seal's acting debut.

The Passion, starring Jencarlos Canela as Jesus, will broadcast live from New Orleans on Palm Sunday. Michael Becker/FOX hide caption

toggle caption
Michael Becker/FOX

The Passion, starring Jencarlos Canela as Jesus, will broadcast live from New Orleans on Palm Sunday.

Michael Becker/FOX

"I sing two songs," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin, "'We Don't Need Another Hero' by Tina Turner and 'Mad World' by Tears for Fears. And that's kind of interspersed with my — God, I can't believe I'm saying the word — acting."


Interview Highlights

On what the live New Orleans show will be like

From what I understand, it's going to be quite a spectacle. ... This has been going on in Holland for the last six years, and so it's a tried and trusted show. ... The great thing about it is that it's so interactive. I mean, it tends to come into a city and take it over and all the residents of the city tend to get involved, and so I can't wait. ...

I'm not quite sure why they picked New Orleans, but then again I guess it's really fitting. You know, people from New Orleans, they tend to be, you know, up for a party and up for an interactive experience. I mean they have a history of being quite a celebrative people.

On the show being a modern take on Jesus' story

I don't know if you ever saw Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, how they took a classic story and set it in modern times. This will be a bit similar to that, I should imagine. You know, the centurions, as they were in those days, that would have come for Jesus — those will be replaced by New Orleans Police Department cops.

The Passion is a modern take on Jesus' story, so the centurions who come for Jesus (Canela) are played by New Orleans Police Department cops. Michael Becker/FOX hide caption

toggle caption
Michael Becker/FOX

The Passion is a modern take on Jesus' story, so the centurions who come for Jesus (Canela) are played by New Orleans Police Department cops.

Michael Becker/FOX

On why he hasn't tried acting before

I've never really had a passion for it, you know, I've only kind of been drawn to things that I have a passion for. You know, I love photography, for example, so you'll never see me without a camera. And obviously, music — I have a passion for that. But whilst I've admired and respected those that can do it, I've never really had a passion for it. So that is perhaps why I haven't acted until this point.

On what drew him to the role

It was the songs that actually drew me to take on the part, because I love that song "Mad World." And so they kind of lulled me into a false sense of security by saying, "Oh, you'll sing this song. By the way, there's a little bit of acting involved, too."

On the role of religion in his life

I went to what they call a Church of England school, primary school, when I was very young. And, you know, I came from a sort of typical English family where, you know, my parents did their best to kind of instill the values of religion into us as kids. But they weren't overtly religious and I didn't grow up staunch Catholic or anything like that. But you know, I believe in God, I believe that there is a God. I don't necessarily think he's a grey-haired man with a beard, but I think of God as more of an energy, a divine energy.

On whether he's nervous about the live show

It is a huge production and it is a lot of pressure, but that's what we crave as artists. We crave pressure. I mean that's — it took me a while to kind of, to figure that out. But that's why we constantly keep putting ourselves in this position. Because in some strange sort of, I guess, semi-masochistic way we're addicted to it. We're addicted to the pressure.