Amid the success Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had with “The Bible” miniseries last year came the major controversy over the claim that Satan, played by actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazan, looked just like President Barack Obama.
Downey told TheBlaze Thursday that the controversy over the devil was a distraction that took attention away from the power of “The Bible” — a media furor that she believes was the direct result of spiritual warfare.
So, she decided to remove Satan entirely from “Son of God,” the couple’s new film that heads to the big screen Feb. 28.
Downey, who appeared in the popular 90s TV show “Touched By an Angel,” said she was disappointed, disheartened and surprised over the media coverage that broke out after comparisons were made between Satan and Obama.
“It was the third week of ‘The Bible’ series when Jesus finally appeared. There was great excitement that Jesus was coming — trailers and talk shows and even Twitter was buzzing with anticipation,” she said. “So Jesus came onto the screen and people went wild. He was beautiful and strong and kind and compassionate — everything we hoped for.”
But the Devil also appeared in that episode, sparking the subsequent controversy that she believes took away from some of the positivity she had hoped the series would bring. Downey said “the media went nuts” and the story quickly went viral.
“It was all over TV and all over the Internet and that next day, when I was sure everyone would be only talking about Jesus, they were all talking about Satan instead,” Downey said. “I was saddened. It was really disappointing, because it became such a distraction and then it became ugly and people were making such nasty statements.”
The actress, who plays Jesus’ mother, Mary, in the series and the film, said that the controversy was reminiscent of the true character of Satan.
“I knew it was just like Satan the narcissist to make it all about him and create division,” she said. “I am sure Satan loved being the center of attention for a day.”
Following the controversy, Downey and Burnett decided that putting Satan into the film probably wasn’t the best path forward. She told TheBlaze that she wanted “Son of God” to focus intensely on Jesus and nothing else.
“I want the name of Jesus to be on the lips of everyone who sees this movie, so I cast Satan out,” she quipped, noting that the film gives Satan no more attention. “It absolutely gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting room floor.”
Watch the trailer for “Son of God” below:
Despite the controversy, Downey said that “darkness is no match for the light.”