John Legend aced his performance in NBC’s live broadcast rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar as the titular role on Easter Sunday. Look no further than when he sang “Gethsemane,” a pivotal song where Jesus questions his faith for the first time, which you can watch above. Legend, a generally good person in his own right, is best known for singing tender pop-R&B ballads. But he sounds right at home tackling Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock musical, which opened on Broadway back in 1971.
Legend says that while he hasn’t done musical theater since high school, he knew that he couldn’t possibly turn down playing Jesus Christ himself. Among other reasons, he was excited that NBC even considered a black man for Jesus Christ himself, considering past productions but also popular depictions at large. “I think we’ve gotten used to seeing Jesus look like he came from Oslo,” Legend recently told NPR, “when, you know, obviously he was born and raised in the Middle East and probably looked a lot closer to me.”
Just like how some Christians found the original Jesus Christ Superstar to be blasphemous, not everyone was a fan of NBC’s subtly updated version. “Who knew Jesus of Nazareth ran a tattoo parlor? Geez,” said Bill O’Reilly, to a swift and savage reply from Legend’s superstar wife Chrissy Teigen. “Yes the shop specializes in coverups that aren’t 32 million dollars,” Teigen said. Of course, she was referencing a settlement O’Reilly paid to a Fox News colleague who threatened to sue him for alleged sexual misconduct.
Watch more of NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar below.