Tonight is the conclusion of History's critically acclaimed miniseries The Bible, which also arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday. BFTV recently spoke with actor Darwin Shaw to ask him about playing Saint Peter in the epic - as well as what it was like to begin his career being killed by James Bond.
"It was a real excitement to finally get a chance to play a lead character. I was thrilled and excited," said Darwin, previously best known for supporting roles in films like Prince of Persia and John Carter, of what it was like to take on The Bible. "I was over the moon, but I think as soon as you start engulfing yourself in the research, you stop thinking about it as a project and you start thinking about him as a man."
Darwin's research involved not only a lot of reading, but also a trip to The Vatican in Rome, several days spent living with monks, and the creation of an entire timeline of Peter's life with Jesus Christ. "I sort of plotted the emotional journey of Peter all the way through," he explained. "But the main thing was that I was working a lot with Diogo [Morgado, who plays Jesus], and we developed a very deep and close friendship almost immediately."
The Bible has received not only critical notice but has developed a considerable fanbase on social media; the official twitter account has over 53,000 followers. "We have an incredible following on Twitter. Twitter feeds have been incredibly complimentary," said Darwin of the public reception to the miniseries. "We're thrilled that people have been connecting to it. "It's very touching and moving when someone comes up to you and says, 'We just saw the show and it's made me reconnect with my faith.'"
While it's his first leading role, it's not the first time that Darwin has been involved with a major project. In 2006's Casino Royale, he played Fisher - the first person that Daniel Craig's James Bond kills on his way to achieving the "007" designation. (You can watch an extended cut of their brutal bathroom fight here via YouTube.) "It was cool to be part of that legacy," Darwin said. "I was there on day three with Daniel filming - really the beginning of when he redefined that character. He's brilliant. He's a proper actor, he's not [just] an action hero."
But, he added with a laugh, "It took me a long time to stop dying in movies!"
It's been an interesting journey for the British actor, who was working as a doctor in London before he decided to move to New York and ultimately pursue a different career. After studying there, he returned to the UK and graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in 2004. Darwin's other credits include a deleted appearance in Ridley Scott's Prometheus and a guest role on the popular British crime drama Wire in the Blood, and he's enjoying the variety on his resume.
"I'm a jack of all trades," he said. "I did Robin Hood at the Royal Shakespeare Company before doing The Bible. I'd love to work with Ang Lee and do something moving and heartfelt. If I could audition for one line in Star Wars, that'd be great."
"My ultimate goal was I wanted to play a part that would make a difference," Darwin continued. "On a personal level, I think every time you feel you've done some good acting and grown as an actor, it's a success. [The Bible] is definitely a highlight." Like many actors, he'd also like to direct and write someday, but he's in no rush to get there.
"The joy of acting is so overwhelming. Acting is a complicated and multifaceted journey," he reflected. "Every step of the way, you learn something new about yourself and the world."