EXCLUSIVE: Roma Downey has plenty of reasons to be thankful this year.
The actress and producer is finally releasing “Resurrection,” an epic biblical movie that follows the immediate aftermath of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. The 60-year-old and her husband, film executive Mark Burnett, were originally hoping to release the feature-length film for Christmas last year. But as theaters remained closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, the couple decided to partner up with new streaming platform discovery+ in time for Easter.
Downey, best known for starring in the hit ‘90s series “Touched by an Angel,” has dedicated her career to releasing faith-based and family friendly programming through her production company LightWorkers. “The Bible” miniseries, which was released in 2013, earned three Primetime Emmy nominations and drew more than 100 million viewers over its 10-week run on the History Channel, Deadline.com reported.
Downey spoke to Fox News about why we need a film like “Resurrection” now, how she has relied on faith during painful moments in her life, as well as the one message she hopes to deliver this Easter.
Fox News: What inspired you to release a film like “Resurrection” now?
Roma Downey: You know, it really was born out of our feelings around the COVID pandemic and the need for a story of hope. We wanted to have this offering available to families during the Easter season.
And we decided to go with discovery+ because there’s lots of family-friendly content. I’m excited that it’s available from the safety and comfort of people’s own homes. Families can now see the greatest story of hope played out on the screen.
Fox News: Why do you think people are seeking biblical stories from Hollywood now more than ever?
Downey: It’s the greatest story. If you’re a screenwriter, the Bible has everything. There’s tension, betrayal, love, sacrifice, heroism, drama, danger – you name it. It has all the ingredients that make up a great story.
But it’s deeper than that. People are hungry for God. I think they’re hungry for hope. We’ve been so visual and there are so many streaming services now. There’s so much content available. But I think people truly want to see these stories on the screen. And the Bible is beautiful.
I think watching the Bible on the screen allows people to make a real emotional connection. And this story focuses on the disciples. We look back and see just how heroic and courageous they were. I’m sure they were scared to death and yet they persevered. And I think audiences can relate to that. We see ourselves in them and it makes us feel even more connected to the story.
Fox News: “Resurrection” is the ultimate story of hope. Could you describe a time in your own life where things became difficult and it felt hopeless? How did your faith encourage you to keep going?
Downey: I am no stranger to grief. I lost my mother when I was only 10. She died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I lost my dad when I was in college. In recent years, I lost my beloved Della Reese, who co-starred with me in “Touched by an Angel.” She was like a mother to me. And my brother. I mention this because I’m someone who has lost a lot of people [I] love, but I don’t think I would have been able to endure any one of those losses without the hope of the resurrection, without the promise of the resurrection.
It was my faith that buoyed me. It was my faith that kept me from sinking to my knees. It was my faith that helped me stand back up again. I have been able to make a choice to live my best life, to try to honor the memory of my mom and dad. But there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t miss them. I so wish they were around.
Fox News: When did you realize that you wanted to share these stories from the Bible on the big screen, whether it would be as an actress or behind the scenes?
Downey: I had the opportunity in the early ‘90s to get cast and play an angel on “Touched by an Angel.” And as a believer, it was like a divine post. I got to be the messenger each week and deliver a message of God’s love. And at the height of the show’s success, over 25 million people tuned in each week. And I believe that they were tuning in for that message. And the message was simple really.
In each episode, the message was that there is a God, that he loves us and he wants to be a part of our lives. That same message is really embedded in all the work that I do, whether I’m in front of the camera or behind it. I want to use this platform to share the love of God. It has been such a privilege and such a joy.
Fox News: What’s it been like working with your husband?
Downey: It’s been a blessing. I have girlfriends who constantly laugh and say, “I couldn’t even hang wallpaper with my husband.” Mark and I have worked together now for almost a decade. We started our production company, LightWorkers Media, and just watch it grow and expand. Every day, even on social media, we’re just committed to putting out positive content. We post scriptures, we post uplifting stories – just trying to add light to the world.
That’s our commitment. And then, of course, we have bigger projects, like these films. We have another biblical movie coming down the pipeline. So we have lots of things we’re working on together. We’re actually going to start shooting at the end of the summer… This is just what we love to do and it gives us so much joy. We’re so passionate about it.
Fox News: What’s one story from the Bible that you would love to tell at some point and why?
Downey: Our next film that we’re currently working on will take us deeper into the Book of Acts. It’s very exciting. Even with “Resurrection,” we tell the story from where there was just a handful of believers to the 21st century, reminding people that there are now over 2.2 billion Christians in the world.
I think that’s very comforting, particularly in a year where, because of the COVID pandemic, we’ve all been isolated. We’ve all been disconnected from each other in some ways.
We’re all ready to step out. We’re ready to see a resurrection in our own lives. And it’s comforting to be reminded that we are part of a greater family of 2.2 billion sons and daughters of a loving God. I find that to be a great reminder especially during times where I’m hardly seeing anybody. I think this is a story we all needed.