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In 2013, Harry Lennix (24, The Matrix Reloaded) got so disgusted with auditioning for ageist youngsters — after he’d made more than 100 films and TV shows — he decided to retire. “Proving that I could act to some casting director who’s 25 seemed absurd to me,” says Lennix, 54. “I’ve been acting since age 19. I’m not a has-been whose last hit was 20 years ago. I’m in Man of Steel, for God’s sake! Hit shows, stuff that won Academy Awards (Ray).”
But just before he quit, a plum role as an FBI counterterrorism boss opposite James Spader on NBC's thriller series The Blacklist fell into his lap. “The Blacklist came out of thin air,” says Lennix, who took it as a sign to spend his Blacklist windfall writing, producing, marketing and costarring in Revival! The Experience, his new musical adaptation of the Bible’s Book of John, directed by Danny Green. “I’ve leveraged every dollar I can to bring this movie to light,” he says.
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Most of the lead actors are black, including the versatile Mali Music as Jesus, Chaka Khan, 65, as Herodias, Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams (who was also just cast as Diana Ross in the upcoming film Soul Train) as Mary Magdalene, and Lennix as Pontius Pilate. Says Lennix, “Mali Music wrote most of the songs — he got Grammy nominations in gospel, urban contemporary and traditional R&B, and he can somehow write in any style.”