Jonathan Roumie’s popularity has seen quite a bounce following his latest roles, one in the hit faith-based series “The Chosen” and now with his part in the “Jesus Revolution” film blowing up at the box office.
The 48-year-old actor and devout Catholic’s screen credits go back at least two decades, with roles in shows like 2019’s “Ballers” and 2020’s “Chicago Med,” according to IMDb. But it has arguably been his role in the popular series that explores Jesus through the eyes and lives of those close to him that has catapulted his career.
Roumie — a ministry leader who has served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion within the Catholic Church — was born in New York City. He got his start in the entertainment industry with a series of behind-the-scenes gigs that included voice-over work for video games and TV shows.
He worked as a production assistant and location scout for movies like “Spider Man,” “I Am Legend,” and “National Treasure.” Later, he appeared in a handful of TV shows such as “Law and Order,” “As The World Turns” and “All My Children,” before landing a role on the big screen for the part of John Wilkes Booth in the 2012 movie “Saving Lincoln.”
But after a few years, the acting gigs started drying up and the star said he found himself overdrawn on his finances and with only enough food to last one day.
Roumie has previously shared that, while faith had always been a part of his life, things changed five years ago when he surrendered his career to God.
“Life literally backed me into a corner until I got on my knees in front of my crucifix and poured out my heart to God,” Roumie told Fox News.
“I couldn’t even get a catering job, and I had bills come in and I had rent. And I got to the point on a Saturday morning in May in 2018 where I was out of money,” he said.
“I’d always had a relationship with my faith, but I had never surrendered my career so viscerally or felt that I had no other choice before,” he added. “So, I think God kind of knew that and said, ‘I need everything from you.’”
“And in order to do that, I need to bring you to the edge of the cliff and give it all to Him,” Roumie continued. “And I did that day. That morning. And I said, ‘It’s no longer my problem. It’s your problem, God. So, you’re going to see me through this? Your yoke is easy. Your burden is light. I’m giving you mine. And whatever happens, happens.’”
Roumie said he returned to his apartment later that day to find four checks in his mailbox from unknown sources. “All I can say is that God provided me a financial miracle when I needed it, when I completely gave myself over to his care.” A few months later, Roumie got a phone call from “The Chosen” series creator Dallas Jenkins and the rest is history.
Speaking recently on the “Ozarks Live,” Roumie called the opportunity to play Jesus the “greatest and most humbling honor” of his life.
“The impact has been profound,” the actor explained. “Not just on viewers but on me personally. So it’s been something that I don’t think anything else can compare to.”
One critic called his portrayal of Jesus, “Damn good in the hardest role ever played,” according to his website.
The Atlantic called the character he portrayed, “someone you’d actually like to hang out with, projecting divine gravity accented with easygoing warmth.”
His work on the show has also given him the first recognition from the industry. In 2020, 2022, and 2023 he was nominated by the Movie Guide Awards for the Grace Prize for Most Inspiring Performance for TV and took home the award in 2020.
In Roumie’s latest project, he plays “charismatic hippie preacher” Lonnie Frisbee in the “Jesus Revolution” alongside actor Kelsey Grammar. The move is based on “the true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origins within a community of teenage hippies in Southern California.”
Conservative television and movie star Grammar plays the late Chuck Smith, the pastor who founded the Calvary Chapel movement and mentor to Pastor Greg Laurie. Frisbee — who Roumie called “a bit of a tortured soul … with deep, deep wounds” — was abused as a child and struggled with drug addiction before he found God.
“In the film, we focus on his [Frisbee’s] time where he’s got God sort of lifting him up and sending him out as an apostle with these amazing, charismatic spiritual gifts — gifts of the Holy Spirit in very overt ways,” Roumie told OSV News.
“When you talk to some of the people that saw him do … healings, (they say) it was like walking with an apostle. It was that extraordinary,” he added. “He wasn’t a god. He was a man that God used fully, to his service.”
Critics have called Roumie’s on-screen portrayal of Frisbee a “breakout performance” and more.
“[A] Breakout performance of Jonathan Roumie as Jesus,” one critic wrote. “Roumie … brings an unparalleled warmth, gentleness, and humor to this daunting role, lighting up the screen.”
Another wrote, “Superb acting by Jonathan Roumie.” While another opined that, “Roumie has such a quiet but commanding presence … he speaks with such calm authority, and it carries throughout the series as he brings such humanity and sincerity to this role.”
During Roumie’s interview on “Ozarks Live” he also talked about where he thought his career would go from here and answered if he planned to stick in just the faith-based genre.
“I’m open to good stories,” Roumie said. “I don’t have any limitations. Before ‘The Chosen’ I was working almost explicitly in TV and films in traditional Hollywood settings. If the stories are good and they’re inspiring I will do them.”