Journey to Bethlehem has been in theatres for almost two weeks. Starring Milo Manheim, Fiona Palomo, Antonio Banderas, Lecrae, as well as Joel and Moriah Smallbone.
While there's no shortage on Christmas movies, For King and Country's, Joel Smallbone shared how Journey to Bethlehem is different than other films.
“What’s fascinating is Mary’s depiction in scripture is very holy and very reverent. I think that’s a beautiful thing, in the sense of in that time women did not have a lot of rights. I think that was something Jesus was trying to overcome. The fact that’s how He lifted His mom up in His life is pretty profound. Mary is not depicted as having a lot of personality. I don’t think any other film really leans into the real emotions.”
Another difference this film takes is telling the birth of Jesus as a musical, right in Joel and Moriah's wheelhouse.
“I’m a huge fan of ‘Can We Make This Work’ which is the duet between Milo who plays Joseph and Fiona who plays Mary. It’s a brilliant pop duet.” Moriah shared.
Joel agreed, "I think it’s the song on the record. When you look at what people responded to. It’s funny when you’re writing music and it’s the same in film, you have these songs that are the singles or the lead songs and then there are songs that are kind of the support team. There’s some other really beautiful songs. 'Mother to a Saviour and King,' I cried over that.”
Getting to combine love for music in the film was special for Moriah, especially since she could relate to the writers.
“I think we would remiss if we didn’t celebrate that these songs were written by another married couple. These are world class melodies.”
As special as it was getting to work with their spouse on the film, Joel admits he wasn't sold at the start.
“It was a cool journey with a lot of twists and turns. They approached Moriah last December and started talking to her about the role of Deborah. She’s really a guide to Mary in these crucial decisions to be married. But it meant her going to Spain for the better part of two months while she’s in the middle of a country-latin project. I was initially thinking it wasn’t a good idea. She was knee deep writing and recording this project. I remember very vividly but she said it was important and felt called to do it. So off she went. Then midway through, I was going to visit for four days and they were in the middle of production so she had been there for a month. They just cast Antonio Banderas to play Herod. They were waiting to cast his son because they wanted to try to find a likeness and I look like Antonio somehow. Moriah called me two days before I was flying out to visit. She said, that she had talked to production and they wanted me to play Antonio's son. In the matter of 48 hours, basically going to visit for four days to staying for four weeks.”
After this film, there might be another idea in the works.
“There were a few people on set that endearingly started calling us Tippy and Debby, nicknames for Antipater and Deborah. Maybe one day we’ll do a spinoff where Tippy and Deborah fall in love,” Moriah shared laughing.
You can watch the full interview below.