Character-rich. That’s about as perfect an adjective as I can think of to describe Dallas Jenkins’ groundbreaking imaginative work based on the life of Jesus and his followers, The Chosen. The show no doubt has fantastic dialogue and superb cinematography. And that music! But to my taste, any work of fiction whether on the page or the screen, will rise and fall based on the characters and their development.
The Chosen obviously has the best source material ever to work with. But even that considered, the personality the writers, and actors and actresses, give to the heroes and villains of our faith is unprecedented to me. I find myself loving Jonathan Roumie the person simply because of his interpretation of Jesus. Make no mistake, the Bible doesn’t need a TV show to give it life. It is alive, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. But The Chosen still takes that life and adds its unique 3-dimensional touch to make for some of the best television I’ve ever watched.
Fellow Rambling Ever On writer Phill Lytle has written several times about The Chosen and has mostly covered lessons and moments. Today I want to delve into the characters and give my seven favorites. I hasten to add that “Jesus” will not be considered. Roumie wins easily, which is saying something considering how much I love the whole cast. But I feel as impeccable as he has been as Jesus, he has the unfair advantage of playing the role of the most important real-world character who ever lived. Not to mention the central figure of our faith.
So with that as a disclaimer, here is my list:
7. Shahar Isaac (Peter)
The fact that Peter is 7th is strong evidence to how elite the character depth is here. Because Isaac as Peter is phenomenal. He makes cockiness likable, for the most part. You feel for him and root for him, and I think I would even if he were a completely fictional character and not the “rock” of the church. All because Isaac brings it.
6. Erick Avari (Nicodemus)
He’s just so reverent and earnest. But he also plays the failure to believe quite well. He was given the difficult job of playing the halfway role between follower and skeptic and Avari was up for it1. To me, the John 3 scene goes down as one of the truly sublime depictions of the Bible of all-time. Roumie was excellent, but we should not overlook Nicodemus’s half of that conversation.
5. Lara Silva (Eden)
The fact she makes my top five with such little screen time compared to the others is a testimony to how good the characterization is.
Just like my own wife, I marvel at her ability to be meek and servant-minded and take care of the home, but also not take any nonsense from her husband. To call him out boldly but lovingly. Even with a tinge of sarcasm at times. It takes a special woman to play Peter’s wife. And Silva has what it takes.
4. Noah James (Andrew)
How can I like Andrew more than Peter? Haven’t I read the New Testament? Well, aside from how in my own world I typically do not like the loudmouth who acts before thinking, in this particular interpretation of the brothers, Andrew just has something undefinable.
Yet I’ll try to define it. I love how opposite of Peter he is. I love how he rolls his eyes at his brother (because I do, too). I love how he is absolutely passionate, just like Peter, but it’s more measured and righteous to me. Just like George to Jerry and Gus to Shawn, the sidekick is the better character here.
If you’d told me someone was doing a seven-season epic on the lives of Jesus and his disciples, no way would I ever guess Andrew would be in the Top 5 favorite characters through two seasons. That’s the magic of the show. And James’ acting.
3. Brandon Potter (Quintus)
I am NOT a “root for the villain” guy. At all. I can definitely appreciate Heath Ledger’s legendary portrayal of the Joker, but I still didn’t like the Joker. I like Quintus. What’s wrong with me? He is just so delightfully snarky. In all of my hundreds of articles on Rambling Ever On, I’ve never come up with a descriptive phrase–and a contradictory one at that!–so easily. Similar to Ulysses Everett McGill, they took some of the most annoying human character flaws and made the most magnificent character. Kudos.
No, I’m not rooting for Rome. That would be perverse! But when Potter’s Quintus is on screen, I’m glued to him. When he met Jesus for the first time—WOW!! I hadn’t been that exhilarated by entertainment since Rocky and Drago came face-to-face in Creed II.
2. Elizabeth Tabish (Mary Magdalene)
From the beauty of her voice to the humility in her eyes, how can anyone not love Mary Magdalene? Furthermore, the journey her character has been on so far is the most captivating to me. Not even Peter or Matthew can match it. As such she has been asked to give us a range of emotions, actions, and reactions. And she nails them all.
Bonus points for her delivery of the best line of the show to me so far: “I was one way, and now I’m completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him.”
1. Paras Patel (Matthew)
One day I’m going to meet the real Matthew, and it will be glorious. But in the meantime, I am supremely thankful for Patel’s fictionalized version of this character. I absolutely adore Matthew. If I ever met Patel, I’d want to hug him for a long time. Ironically it would be an awkward encounter.
Because It’s definitely the awkward quirks that do it for me. I’m a math person and definitely can be socially inept, though I’d be lying if I said I was as bad as he was. But the core of who Matthew is–I relate to that. Deeply. Intimately.
Because his socially awkward quirks seem so normal and easy. Not forced or cumbersome. Even the small gestures, like the way he cocks his head, or how he stood there so uncomfortably with a 1.5-second half smile after making the decision to follow Jesus (as Peter won’t even look at him) are gold. Additionally, the way he stood up to Gaius when he made that decision–BOOM! That came completely out of nowhere and my love for him went through the roof.
He’s not Sheldon or Michael Scott. Nor Gowdy Cannon for that matter. The real Matthew of history deserves better and this performance gives it to him. There is no character other than Jesus that I am mesmerized by and drawn to like Matthew. For that, he is my number one.
What about you? Which characters are your favorites?