‘It Is a Celebration!’: THE CHOSEN’s Jonathan Roumie, Elizabeth Tabish on Season 2 Finale
By Movieguide® Staff
THE CHOSEN Season 2 recently aired its finale episode called “Beyond Mountains,” which featured a scene that made “cinema history” as Jesus prepares to preach the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7.
Although the season ends before Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) speaks, actress Elizabeth Tabish, who plays Mary Magdalene, viewed the episode as a celebration of the past two seasons.
“It is a celebration,” Tabish told Movieguide®. “I know everyone’s talking about it being a cliffhanger, but it’s also a lovely moment where all these characters from the past two seasons sort of emerge, and it’s a lovely sort of apex of the season so far. And yeah, it’s been, it’s been a lot of excitement and wonderful feedback.”
Fans did get their first glimpse of the scene, which included a historic number of extras.
Movieguide® previously reported:
THE CHOSEN just shot one of the most popular Bible scenes of all time with the help of more than 2,000 fans.
“What. A. Miracle,” Jonathan Roumie wrote on Instagram. Roumie plays Jesus in the beloved series, which recently completed filming the Sermon on the Mount. “Over TWO THOUSAND (COVID-tested) people bravely faced the frigid temps (coldest of my career thus far – sorry dude- still needed my coat after this shot), all to hear Jesus’ words in the greatest Sermon ever given to us by God Himself. Modern-day cinema history.”
Roumie noted his excitement to see the finale come together despite the show’s unique funding and shooting schedule.
“It’s been really lovely to see it all come together, especially since we shoot so much out of order,” Roumie told Movieguide®. “We don’t film like a traditional episodic series, we film more like a movie. So things are done, sometimes several months out of order… so trying to keep everything all kind of contained and in order and ‘what was my emotional state when I did this the other half of the scene six months ago?’ and to see it turned out the way it did, I think was just just a wonderful surprise, and a the relief and a joy for all of us.”
Tabish added: “It has been created in such an unusual way, crowdfunding, paying it forward, it’s sort of unprecedented in the way it’s been created.”
Although THE CHOSEN has not been added to mainstream media platforms like Netflix, the team behind the largest crowdfunded project trusts that the shows’ adherence to truth and biblical morals will continue to attract audiences worldwide.
“The quality of the show is on par with major network shows. The cinematography, the music, the writing, the performances, this cast is so incredible to get to work with,” Tabish explained. “I think it might only be a matter of time for mainstream media to check it out. Even if you’re not religious, it’s still a very entertaining show and it’s of a high quality, production wise.”
“There is an assumption that because it’s Christian media, it might be maybe preachy, or just a certain way that people aren’t expecting. But it’s wonderfully surprising in that it’s very fresh and very human and real and rooted in reality,” she added. “The performances are really based in realistic reactions to what’s going on. So hopefully everyone else in the world gets curious about it.”
According to “The Chosen” app, over 200 million people have viewed episodes of the first multi-season series about the life of Jesus Christ.
“I’ve talked to some industry folks that I do business with, that aren’t religious, and because we do business, they’ve finally started to watch the first episode and then are like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And then they started watching the second episode then like literally a couple days later I got this email saying, ‘I got one more episode in season one, how do I watch Season Two?'” Roumie said, joking: “All of a sudden, I [felt] like Dallas Jenkins for a minute just telling people like he does on the live streams how to watch the show, which really is simpler than people think.”
“It sounds intimidating because it’s new. It’s never been done before. So it’s exciting to hear that, especially as an actor, industry people are starting to like buy into it,” he added.
In Episode 1 of Season 1, Tabish and Roumie’s character have their first interaction.
Tabish discussed how Season 2 added nuance to Mary’s relationship with her Savior.
“I remember Dallas mentioning that the character arc for me; she’s redeemed and then the rest of season one she’s just sort of happy and all as well,” Tabish recalled. “They wanted to show a little bit more of the realistic scenario in which someone might get triggered and sort of return to their old habits [in season two. So Season Two for me was that, it was challenging, and it was emotional, but I really loved what they did with the dynamic and the relationship between Mary and Jesus.”
Tabish added that there was an unintentional parallel between the two seasons.
“In Episode 1 of Season 1, [Jesus] pursues her to remind her who she is, and that she’s redeemed. He hugs her, it’s this pursuit of Mary. Whereas in Season 2, she literally runs away,” Tabish said. “Seems to be a tendency, runs away, is brought back, she doesn’t even come back on her own because they bring her back and in the scene with Jesus in the tent of apologizing, the shame that’s sort of involved with all of that, once he says he forgives her, I thought that was really lovely and it was accidental that it happened to parallel or bookend of her going to hug him [in season one].”
Despite the overwhelmingly positive response to the second season of THE CHOSEN, some episodes sparked controversy, including the episode where Mary runs back to her old vices.
“You have to trust the people you’re working with,” Roumie said in response. “We have to trust the creator of the show and know what his intentions are, and realize that there’s always a critic everywhere, you know, and especially when it comes to something as personal as the lens of faith and how people see these characters in their own minds. In their own experience of their faith growing up, you’re never gonna please everybody. It’s just part of it, and as much as you can take the negative comments with a grain of salt, you also have to take the great comments with a grain of salt in that way and stay balanced with all of it.
“People need to remember that it’s a TV show at the end of the day, and it’s not the Bible. It’s not a replacement for the Bible or for scriptures. It’s meant to inspire people to open the Bible and discover these people for themselves as they were about 2000 years ago,” Roumie added. “This is like [how] somebody would have an interpretive painting. This is just our art form that we are using to express a version of the impact that these people had on this world. And this is just a way of telling that story.”
The show’s director Dallas Jenkins added in a previous interview with Movieguide®:
Jenkins encouraged fans to not view THE CHOSEN as a substitute or equal to God’s Word.
“Well, we make it very clear as often as possible, this is not the Bible. And I am not God. And Jonathan, who plays Jesus is not Jesus,” Jenkins noted. “And we say that not to try to diminish our responsibility to be faithful to God’s Word and to the character intentions of Jesus in the Gospels. But we don’t want people to be thinking, ‘Wait a minute, you didn’t include that story? I needed that story.’ No, you can go to the Bible for that.
“I’m doing the best that I can to honor the character and intentions of Jesus in the Gospels. I’m a flawed, sinful, broken human being. This is not God’s word, I’m not claiming the same inspiration that the writers of the Bible had. So ultimately, the show is to point you closer to your relationship with Jesus and ultimately to God’s word,” he continued.