Random Trivia For This Title:
- The eye make-up for Robert PowellRobert Powell consisted of a thin line of dark blue eyeliner on the upper lid of the eye, and a thin line of white eyeliner on the lower lid. This had the effect of highlighting the piercing blue of his eyes, thus giving him a penetrating stare, when combined with very little blinking, made the character appear surreal and supernatural.
- While shooting in Tunisia, the set had a surprise visit by R2-D2. George LucasGeorge Lucas was shooting Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) at the same time and, according to actress [?] Koo Stark: "Operated by remote control, R2-D2 had to trundle off camera and disappear behind a sand dune. But the remote control failed to stop the robot and he wandered onto the set of Jesus of Nazareth."
- Rarely during the movie do any of the actors portraying Jesus blink their eyes. Writer and director Franco ZeffirelliFranco Zeffirelli decided on this as a means of creating a subconscious visual mystique about the character that not only differentiated him from all of the other characters, and is eerily effective. The boy Jesus in the Temple blinks twice in the Temple, and the adult Jesus blinks only once on film.
- Because Robert PowellRobert Powell looked so much like Jesus in pictures, every time he exited his dressing room in costume, the foul language the crew was using would suddenly stop.
- The cast includes seven Oscar winners: Christopher PlummerChristopher Plummer, Sir Laurence OlivierLaurence Olivier, Sir Peter UstinovPeter Ustinov, Anne BancroftAnne Bancroft, Anthony QuinnAnthony Quinn, Rod SteigerRod Steiger, and Ernest BorgnineErnest Borgnine; and six Oscar nominees: James MasonJames Mason, Sir Ian HolmIan Holm, Ian BannenIan Bannen, James Earl JonesJames Earl Jones, Valentina CorteseValentina Cortese, and Sir Ralph RichardsonRalph Richardson.
- Peter O'ToolePeter O'Toole was cast as Judas, but had to back out of the project, due to illness.
- Writer and director Franco ZeffirelliFranco Zeffirelli wanted [?] Marcello Mastroianni for the role of Pontius Pilate, but they couldn't agree on financial terms. Zeffirelli was happy in the end as he felt that Rod SteigerRod Steiger was a "magnificent Pilate".
- Writer and director Franco ZeffirelliFranco Zeffirelli considered Dustin HoffmanDustin Hoffman and Al PacinoAl Pacino for the part of Jesus, and Robert PowellRobert Powell to play Judas.
- According to Ernest BorgnineErnest Borgnine (The Centurion), many local extras had to be dubbed because they couldn't speak English very well. Writer and director Franco ZeffirelliFranco Zeffirelli decided to avoid recording sound altogether in many parts, and simply sent the principal actors and actresses to dub their own characters in the studio later.
- In a 2019 interview, Robert PowellRobert Powell admitted that, while he wasn't personally religious, he did have, what could be described as a religious experience when shooting the Sermon on the Mount scenes in front of hundreds of rapt and tearful extras. The crew were also highly emotional afterwards and congratulated Powell for his powerful performance.
- Some portions of Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) were filmed on the same sets and locations as this mini-series. Python director Terry JonesTerry Jones remembers that some extras had worked on both productions, and would occasionally comment "Franco would never film it like that!"
- Robert PowellRobert Powell went on a near starvation diet (eating just cheese) for twelve days prior to shooting the crucifixion scenes in order to appear physically emaciated following Jesus' imprisonment and torture.
- Robert PowellRobert Powell came under severe criticism from religious groups for "living in sin" with his companion, dancer Barbara Lord of Pan's People, while intending to portray Jesus. The couple married shortly before production began.
- [?] Maria Schneider was originally offered the role of the Virgin Mary, but declined, and later regretted the decision.
- Olivia HusseyOlivia Hussey (Virgin Mary) doesn't age through the mini-series, as it was said the Virgin Mary never aged throughout Jesus' life.
- Dame Elizabeth TaylorElizabeth Taylor was interested in playing Mary Magdalene.
- Sir Tom CourtenayTom Courtenay was offered the role of Jesus.
- Ian McShaneIan McShane was originally offered the role of Joseph of Arimathea. He turned it down, but held out for Judas Iscariot.
- His role as the blind man was the final role for Italian comedy star [?] Renato Rascel.
- The character of "Zerah " played by Ian HolmIan Holm is entirely fictional created purely for dramatic reasons.
- [?] Celia Johnson was originally considered for Herodias.
- At $14 million this was the most expensive movie ever made for television up to that point.