SYDNEY – Greek-Australian actor George Xanthis plays the Apostle John in The Chosen, the first-ever multi-season series about the life of Christ which is available for streaming.
Born in Sydney, Xanthis was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith and spoke to Eternity News (EN) about the role and his faith.
He told EN that “in terms of a cultural identity, I’ve been Greek Orthodox my whole life. I’ve always gone to Greek Easter, and I go to church with my grandparents. There’s the Rose Bay Greek Orthodox church named after Saint George. My grandmother, who lives around that area, loves taking me there.”
As Xanthis prepared for the show’s second season, he “reached out to his family priest, Father Stephen, to ask for his advice about John,” EN reported, noting that “Father Stephen had married his parents and baptized Xanthis, along with his brother and his cousins” and “had taught him at the Greek Orthodox primary school he attended in Kingsford.”
“Being able to talk to the priest who has been in our family for so long was really special,” the actor told EN, noting that as a child he really did not pay attention in church.
“I mean, a 10-year-old is gonna get bored in church,” Xanthis told EN. “That’s the reality of the situation… and that’s nobody’s fault. It’s just that the kid has maybe attention deficit disorder or is thinking about a video game they played that morning!”
Now, “as an adult playing John on a hit TV series, there have been several times when Xanthis has been impacted by the Bible’s stories freshly on set,” EN reported, adding that Xanthis referred “to a scene in Season One’s sixth episode entitled Indescribable Compassion.”
As Jesus is teaching in the scene, Xanthis told EN that he is “lucky enough to sit there as John and listen to this because I’m just background for that scene – John doesn’t have any lines.”
“Someone asks, ‘when is the kingdom of heaven coming, and when do we need to be ready?’ And Jesus … he says, ‘what do you do with your master is out?’” Xanthis told EN, adding that “I hope I’m getting that right, by the way … this is what I felt in the moment.”
As the scene continues, “Andrew answers” and “Jesus re-frames the scenario in reverse, then gets to his point,” EN reported.
“You’ve got to be at the door waiting and you’ve got to be ready, always. ‘If I tell you when it’s going to happen, you’re going to go to sleep. And then you are going to be closed,’” Xanthis told EN of the moral of the parable as he understands it.
“We have to always be there, present. And there’s just so many ways that you can read that,” he told EN.
“I had no idea that those sorts of things are what Jesus was saying,” Xanthis told EN. “Doing this show has made me prick my ears up and listen a lot more and delve deeper into these parables.”
According to The Chosen’s website, the first two seasons of the series have already been viewed over 160 million times. Created, directed and co-written by American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, The Chosen’s first season was the biggest crowd-funded TV series or film project of all time. As of August 2021, The Chosen’s YouTube channel has 1.3 million subscribers.