Joseph Fiennes Went to 'Gladiator School' to Play a Roman Soldier in 'Risen'

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Joseph Fiennes takes on the role of Roman soldier in his latest film, Risen, a faith-based production about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The 45-year-old actor went all in on the training for the movie, even attending “gladiator school” to learn more about the part and its historical context.

“He's part of a death squad, if you like, that oversees the crucifixion of Christ,” Fiennes told ET of his character. “Then, only a number of days later, he's confronted by the very man he put to death.”

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The film, which the actor describes as a “collision of The Passion of the Christ and C.S.I.,” aims to show the hope for redemption in the Biblical tale.

“This man forgives him for it,” Fiennes added. “You can maybe draw from that, or interpret from that, that there is a second chance for us all.”

It’s not an easy part, but certainly less controversial than the actor’s recently-announced role as Michael Jackson in a British TV movie.

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"I'm a white, middle-class guy from London, I'm as shocked as you may be." Fiennes exclusively told ET of playing the King of Pop in Sky Arts’ Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, a “light tongue-in-cheek look” at an urban legend about Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackson taking a road trip together after they were unable to catch a flight out of New York City due to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's kind of off the wall, but the writing is a delight, and the kind of interaction between the three of them is funny, and also full of pathos," he added. "It's people who are so iconic, but also can be detached. You know, you can get detached from society. So it's examining that kind of wonderful and mad detachment."

hits theaters on Feb. 19.

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