9 Fascinating Facts About Jonathan Roumie, the Catholic Actor Who Plays Jesus in ‘The Chosen’

Jonathan Roumie is a devout Catholic actor best known for his role as Jesus in the hit series “The Chosen.”

The 49-year-old’s popularity has spread like wildfire as the show has over 500 million views worldwide. 

During its first season, the show was the largest-ever crowdfunded television series and is currently available in over 50 language translations in The Chosen App.

Now filming its fifth season, “The Chosen” has touched the lives of millions around the world and so has the beloved actor who portrays Jesus.

Let’s get to know Jonathan Roumie a little bit better:

1. He was baptized Greek Orthodox.

Born in New York City, Roumie was baptized Greek Orthodox. After his family moved from the city to the suburbs of Long Island, his family struggled to find a Greek Orthodox church.

His father, who was born and raised in Egypt, attended Catholic school there and was familiar with the Catholic faith. His mother is a Roman Catholic from Ireland. Therefore, when they could no longer find a Greek Orthodox church, the family felt it natural to attend the local Catholic Church down the street. There Roumie made his first Communion and confirmation as a Catholic.

2. He had a powerful conversion.

While Roumie grew up Catholic, he has spoken openly about the deeper conversion he experienced. He explains that he began growing in his faith five and a half years ago.

Roumie had been an active member at his parish and participated in several ministries such as being a sponsor in RCIA, a Eucharistic minister, and a lector. But he admits that he was not letting God take part in his career.

It wasn’t until he was brought to the brink of poverty that he finally let God take complete control of his life.

Roumie shares that he woke up one day in May 2018 and was overdrawn on his bank account, had $20 in his wallet, had enough food for the day, had rent and bills arriving, and had not worked in three weeks.

He got on his knees in front of his crucifix and poured his heart out to God. Roumie expressed that he felt an overwhelming sense of peace that everything would be okay. Later that day, he received four checks in the mail. It was then that he truly surrendered his career to God.

3. He has a special devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. 

Roumie has made his devotion to the Divine Mercy chaplet well known. However, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he felt called to share this devotion with others.

He began praying the chaplet live on his Facebook page every day. During this time, he had Catholic and non-Catholic fans reach out to him expressing their gratitude, and, for some, they now carried a calling toward conversion. 

4. “The Chosen” is not the first time he has played Jesus on screen.

Although the dynamic duo is most well-known for their recent work on “The Chosen,” Roumie’s and director Dallas Jenkins’ relationship goes back several years.

The two first worked together when Jenkins, an evangelical Christian, was the media director for his church. He cast Roumie to play Jesus for a short film he made for his church called “The Two Thieves.” The film told the story of the two other men who were crucified with Jesus.

Soon after, Jenkins made the short film entitled “The Shepherd,” which became the pilot for what became “The Chosen.” Several months after its release, Jenkins called Roumie to ask if he would be interested in playing Jesus again in this new series.

5. He is outspoken in urging Christian actors in Hollywood to stand firm in their beliefs. 

In an interview with Matt Fradd on “Pints with Aquinas,” Roumie encouraged Christian actors to stand firm in their beliefs when accepting roles.

He discussed how the culture is at odds with faith and reminded Christian actors to look at the kind of roles they are offered and if they compromise their spirituality.

He added that there are certain shows he cannot watch anymore because “they’re so gratuitous” and his “spirit rejects them.”

Roumie advised Christian actors to try to find Christ in each role and emphasized the importance of prayer and discernment. 

Roumie also shared with CNA that others in Hollywood have told him to “downplay” his faith.

“I‘ve had people say, like, ‘you might want to downplay your faith a little bit because it’s not really a thing that’s going to win you over to people in casting films and TV shows,’” he said.

“I think in Hollywood especially, people are kind of nervous about talking about their faith in a business setting,” Roumie added.

“I never was. I’m happy to talk about it to anyone who wants to talk about it, but getting that kind of advice was a little strange and disappointing, but I also wasn’t surprised because that’s what I heard about.”

6. He has partnered with the Hallow App to create Catholic content.

Roumie is a featured partner on the popular Catholic prayer and meditation app, Hallow. He participated in several of the app’s prayer challenges, such as the #Pray40 Lent Challenge, the Advent Featuring The Chosen: #Pray25 Prayer Challenge, and a 30-day Gospel Challenge.

His voice was also used to record the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Sacred Heart Novena, and the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.  

7. He released a docuseries called “Jonathan and Jesus.”

Jonathan and Jesus,” released on Jan. 4 and streaming on Amazon Prime, follows Roumie as he explores the impact Jesus Christ had on the world throughout history and how the great weight of playing the Son of God has impacted Roumie.

The four-episode docuseries takes viewers around the world visiting iconic sites in Rome, Paris, and more, while notable names such as Brandon Flowers, Alice Cooper, Matt Fradd, Francis Chan, and Sheila E. also share their stories of the role Jesus plays in their lives.

The idea for the docuseries came after Roumie was invited to meet Pope Francis in August 2021. The Catholic actor invited the director of “The Chosen,” Dallas Jenkins, an evangelical Christian, to attend with him.

The producers of the show wanted to capture the encounter on video and soon after, they had the idea to create a series bringing together the stories of different individuals whose lives were impacted by Jesus. They also captured what it is like for Roumie to portray Jesus and the impact it made on his life.

8. He has a partnership with a Catholic charity helping children in need.

Roumie first began sponsoring with Unbound in 2019, financially supporting and writing letters to a child in Tanzania. Unbound is a Catholic agency that uses a network of thousands of sponsors to deliver personalized support to children, elders, and their families living in poverty in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. 

In November 2023, Unbound announced that Roumie partnered with them to sponsor their one-millionth impoverished child entering the program.

9. He spoke at the 2023 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

On Jan. 20, 2023, in front of thousands of pro-lifers at the National Mall in Washington D.C., Roumie spoke publicly for the first time about his pro-life views at the annual March for Life. 

He focused primarily on the spiritual battle that is taking place in United States society over abortion. He cautioned the crowd to take their faith seriously in the face of resistance, including from popular culture and the media.

“Just as God is real, Satan is also real,” Roumie warned. “He pushes you to doubt when you know in your heart the right thing to do.”

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