Joseph Mawle

Last seen in a small-screen adaptation of Jane Austenís Persuasion, Joseph Mawle returns to our screens during Easter week in the role of Jesus. He stars in a six-part BBC series entitled The Passion, which he describes as the "thriller version" of biblical events.

Why re-tell a story already so well known to millions?

"It's such an incredible story. Like so many I thought I knew it, too, but I discovered so much more while working on it. This version is for todayís audience Ė itís fast paced!"

So what can viewers expect from this dramatisation?

"Excitement, danger, love, loss, friendship, revolution - not to mention some bloodshed. It's like the thriller version, or at least it certainly reads like one. I've not seen it yet !

"It starts in Jerusalem during Passover week, when Jesus is preparing for his prophetic entrance through the East Gate, and tells the story from three points of views Ė the religious authoritiesí, the Romansí and Jesusí."

The focus seems to be on the political milieu and relationships between the characters. Tell us about thatÖ

"We get to see much of the private lives of these incredibly famous characters, like (Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, the High Priest). Not just the public image but the men and women themselves, their families and their sacrifices, their frustrations and desires. It's all undeniably human and in a world thatís tangled, chaotic, vivid and fascinating."

At 33, you're the same age as Jesus was when he died. How did that resonate with you?

"Just how young he was. Obviously life expectancy was lower back then, but at 33 I still feel I'm in my infancy!"

The cast is packed with brilliant actors like David Oyelowo and James Nesbitt. Tell us a bit about the atmosphere on set.

"It felt very much like (working with) a band of brothers and sisters. They really spurred me on during the third day of shooting the Crucifixion when Iíd been up and down on (the cross) for three days. Itís definitely one of the most surreal experiences Iíve had as an actor !

"I was also regularly stubbing my toes Ė Iím crap in sandals Ė and with a diva donkey in tow there were some casualties! So Paloma, who played Mary Magdalene, offered to play the donkey in one scene as the ass kept pushing me off my mark."

Your hearing was damaged by a virus when you were 16. How do you deal with that?

"I tell people that if Iím ignoring them chances are I may not have heard them. I depend on hearing aids, but I've not found it a problem. Iím visually very aware!"

You tend not to talk too much about your private life. What was your upbringing like?

"I grew up in a farming family. I hated cleaning out the chickens but loved hatching them and feeding the new born sheep. The smell of hot milk still has a special resonance for me. Harvest was back-breaking work, though... Where do you think Jesus got his biceps from?"

And what about your life now? Can you tell us about your marital status Ė do you have a partner, for example?

"Iím single. You?"

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