Hugh Bonneville, best known for his role as the Earl of Grantham Robert Crawley on the show "Downtown Abbey," has examined the last days of Jesus Christ in a new documentary titled "Jesus: Countdown to Calvary," which is set to air on Easter 2018.
The actor went to Jerusalem with his team to speak with spiritual leaders and scholars about the religious and political tension during Jerusalem's first century. He also examined ancient artifacts and historical records with professors like Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh), Paula Fredriksen and Ronny Reich (Hebrew University), Zuleika Rodgers (Trinity College), Amit Re'em (Israeli Institute of Archaeology), author Amos Oz and Father Gregory Tatum.
The special film will play out like a political thriller as Bonneville and his team try to challenge long-held assumptions about the said period that featured Jesus' conflict with political leaders. The documentary was shot in 4K and will feature state-of-the-art graphics and effects.
Before he got into acting, Bonneville was a scholar of theology at the Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. He used his experience and education in developing the documentary, which will focus on Jesus' last six days.
"I'm not going to chart the religion that grew out of these events," Bonneville said in a promo trailer for the documentary. "I'm interested in the events themselves: what happened in that final week of Jesus' life, how he died, why he died and who killed him."
"Jesus: Countdown to Calvary" originally aired on March 1 via American Public Television and is expected to air this Easter on the Irish channel RTE following its agreement with Europe's public broadcaster, ARTE, to bring cultural content to European television.
Bonneville joined the project following the end of "Downtown Abbey" in December 2015. At the time, the actor revealed that he was looking to expand his work after playing the head of an aristocratic family for six seasons.