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How Hollywood Star Antonio Banderas Ended Up Playing Herod in New Nativity Movie: 'Journey to Bethlehem'

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A studio head overseeing “Journey to Bethlehem,” a new musical about the nativity story, believes audiences will truly love the powerful way the Gospel story is told.

“It is a full-on narrative, live-action musical with choreography, and dance, and joy, and fun — and a villain in King Herod, played by Antonio Banderas,” Rich Peluso, executive vice president and head of AFFIRM Films, told CBN Digital. “So, they can expect an incredible journey that is harmonious with Scripture.”

Peluso said Banderas, truly an interesting casting decision, was “high” on his wish list. After he and his team began pursuing the actor, they weren’t sure they would land him.

Watch Peluso explain:

So, they went to a theater Banderas owns in Spain, bought tickets to one of his shows, got backstage, and talked to him.

“I think Antonio saw the passion of … the producers and … realized this music is very special,” Peluso said. “And we landed Antonio, and he brought a magic to the character of King Herod.”

The studio leader said Banderas brought “some really nice moments” that helped bring King Herod alive on the big screen, infusing comedic points into an evil character’s journey.

“He provides a lot of comedy relief at the same time as being the villain,” Peluso said.

Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start”

As for the general storyline, the AFFIRM leader said it was fun to dive into hypothetical explorations of what people around Mary and Joseph might have been thinking after she became pregnant.

“We know Joseph’s reaction when he heard about Mary, but what was Joseph’s mom’s reaction?” Peluso asked. “What was Joseph’s dad’s reaction? And what could have Mary’s parents thought about this?”

He said “Journey to Bethlehem” makes the exploration “funny,” “heartwarming,” and relatable. Find out more about the film here.

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.