How We Met: David Bedella and James Burke-Dunsmore

I remember thinking, “I don’t meet Satan every day!"

David Bedella 50

Following his break-out role in 2004, as a larger-than-life Satan in the controversial musical 'Jerry Springer: The Opera', for which he won an Olivier, Bedella (left in picture) has appeared in a number of West End productions including 'The Rocky Horror Show'. He lives in London

James and I were both at a party for a friend of ours, [set designer] Janet Bird, in 2008. I looked across the room and saw this striking-looking man with flowing hair and beard and thought, wow, he looks just like Jesus. He had this quiet stillness, which drew people to him. I made a beeline over and acted in my usual flirtatious way.

I introduced myself as Satan and said, "We probably shouldn't be having a conversation." James had already seen my Satan [in Jerry Springer: The Opera] and we hit it off. As the evening wore on, we got into a serious chat about Jesus. He discovered I was a person of great faith – a Christian – too. He told me about how much he studies the life of Christ in order to do his work portraying him on stage. He was a fascinating guy who could hold his own in a spiritual conversation. But at the time I made the assumption that he may not be a serious actor, that he did this work because of his looks.

The following Easter I went to see him in his annual Passion play, in Trafalgar Square. He was beautifully articulate in a role in which it would have been easy to go over the top with the material. Afterwards, everyone in the audience queued up to get a photo standing next to Jesus in his white robes. He spotted me and gave me an awkward smile.

I think his look could serve many purposes. So where this repetition of just one role comes from is a lack of imagination on the part of the casting people. I say that because my break-out role was as Satan, and I've spent the past 10 years wading through a never-ending stream of offers to play the same part.

We've both had our share of controversy. When I was doing Jerry Springer, I got a lot of flak from right-wing religious groups and had to walk through picket lines every night to get to the stage door. James has had protests, too, but from humanist groups. We both feel the same way about it: anything that gets the conversation going about these iconic religious figures is a good thing.

James Burke-Dunsmore 41

Burke-Dunsmore has spent 15 years portraying Jesus Christ in more than 58 stage, TV and radio productions. He lives in London

The first time I saw David was when he was playing Satan in Jerry Springer: The Opera, in 2004, in London. I went along and watched it with a chaplain friend. I knew David had spoken openly in the past about his prayer and faith, and I thought it extraordinary that he was able to perform in this production with all the controversy at the time. Was I offended by it? It'll take a lot more than an opera to shake how I feel about Christ; I find it interesting, though, when other people are so easily shaken.

His performance was amazing. I could tell the extraordinary impact he was having by the audience's reaction. I've seen that since in his other roles: he rips an audience apart; they want to see him chewing up the scenery – and it was the same for me when we first met.

I have a daily conversation with people who come up to me and say, "I've just met Jesus!" For me, meeting David, I remember thinking, "I don't meet Satan every day!" It was wonderful to see this common ground; both of us dealing with the portrayal of iconic figures who so few people have played.

This is a man who can cripple you with his eyes; he can make you laugh, but he does it in a loving, playful way. He's actually a sensitive man who's aware of his surroundings. Of course we all have an ego – I have a rampant ego which wants to be loved – but it's what we do with it that marks you as a man, and David has managed to tame that ego, which is why I felt a connection with him.

In this business you often don't know what you're going to be doing next. With Jerry Springer and The Rocky Horror Show he's done the big camp thing. I know David will keep carrying shows and getting stronger. He might even be in something other than musical theatre. As for me, I have no problem being typecast. I've had to carry 58 different productions about Jesus and the question I meet every year is why am I still playing Jesus. With acting, it's often about being jack of all trades master of none, but I'm happy to have a small repertoire, done well.

We've fought the same battles but he has been in the business longer than me. It's like standing next to a warrior who has been through it all; I admire the way he still carries himself with grace.

Burke-Dunsmore is in the Wintershall Players' The Passion of Jesus live in Trafalgar Square at midday and 3.15pm on Good Friday (passionofjesus-trafalgar.co.uk). The first performance will also be live-streamed at wintershall-live.com

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz