When rising Greek-Australian actor George Xanthis auditioned for a role on The Chosen, it wasn’t for the role he would eventually play, as Xanthis told the Ouzo Talk Podcast.
“I got an audition for Simon,” recalls Xanthis, referring to the Apostle Simon, now played by Shahar Isaac.
During an intensive audition process, Xanthis, who is originally from the Sydney suburb of Earlwood, would read for multiple roles before landing the role of Saint John the Apostle.
“I walked to the audition (and) on my ten-minute walk back, I get a call and they said; ‘they loved you, but they want you to read for Quintus, the Roman Praetor’.
“I thought to myself; ‘if this is the show about Biblical times, I like the idea of playing a Roman. I’m an ancient historian myself, I studied ancient history and my favourite era is the Julio-Claudians, which is where this (the show) is. So I’m like; ‘I’d rather be the Roman guy than the disciple.
“I said; ’beautiful, when do I have to come back in?’ They said ‘it’ll be tomorrow’. This was like 4pm, and they sent me nine pages for Quintus.
“In Australia, you have to be off book, and that’s what I was thinking in my mind. I came back in and I put my sides down, and the casting director is like ‘oh, you can keep your sides with you and you can read off them – we only gave you this yesterday’. I said, ‘oh no, I learnt it. Aren’t you supposed to learn the whole thing?’ And they’re like, ‘no’. In America, you get things so quick that they let you read off the script.”
Xanthis would go on to nail his audition, but in a bizarre turn of events, wouldn’t get any of the parts he read for.
“A couple of days later, they said you’ve landed the role of John,” smiles Xanthis.
“In my mind, I always think that John must be somewhere in between an out-of-luck fisherman, and some smart-ass Roman Senator.”
Now filming its fourth season, Xanthis’ character, the Apostle John, is playing an increasingly central role in the series, which is slated to culminate in season seven, with speculation high among the cast as to when the Crucifixion will actually take place.
In addition to Xanthis, The Chosen also boasts a number of other actors with Greek connections, including Xanthis’ on-screen father, Zebedee, played by Nick Shakoor who has Greek heritage. Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus, was also raised Greek Orthodox.
Season 1 of The Chosen is now available on Netflix, with all remaining seasons available via The Chosen app.
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Season 1 of The Chosen on Netflix