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 ( The first performance will also be live-streamed at

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention