A new Christmas musical classic! Journey to Bethlehem is a musical retelling of the story of Mary and Joseph, with Disney star Milo Manheim playing Joseph and Outer Banks actress Fiona Palomo taking on the role of Mary. The two stars sat down with J-14, where they spoke about their vastly different approaches to their biblical roles, what it was like to work together and more.
Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Milo and Fiona.
As Journey to Bethlehem follows one of the most important stories of all time, both actors felt the pressure to portray their characters carefully — which ended up being wildly different from one another.
“We kind of had different sort of opposite ways of thinking about it,” Milo told J-14 exclusively. “Fiona was like, ‘I need to make sure that we respect this story in every way and it’s not over the top in any way. It shouldn’t be.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want to take this too seriously. It needs to be fun, it needs to be funny.’ And I think that because we had each other, we found the perfect middle ground.”
“Obviously you have to take some creative license to turn a story of that weight into a musical and do it the right way,” Fiona added. “Everyone behind [the movie] had, I think, so much time and work behind it where they knew what we had to go for.”
Fiona also revealed that every character, whether it was Antonio Banderas portraying King Herod or Joel Smallbone as Antipater, each had their “own universe” going into filming which came together “beautifully.”
Another important element of the nativity musical was its overall message, which the ZOMBIES actor described as “the perfect theme story for a musical.”
“The story feels so far away when we started shooting it — but we realized quickly it’s just as true now as it was back then. They felt the same ways,” he explained, before adding how fun it was to explore Joseph’s own disbelief towards, you know, Mary’s pregnancy.
“I thought, ‘Of course Joseph didn’t believe her’ — I don’t know why I [originally] thought that,” Milo laughed. “It was fun to explore that.”
As for the actors behind Mary and Joseph, the costars had nothing but kind words to share about one another. “I can’t speak more highly of Fiona,” Milo began, before gushing over how Fiona was the “perfect person to embody Mary,” due to her “innocence,” “strong heart” and “whimsy.”
For Fiona, she appreciated Milo’s radiating energy, which she described as a delight to be around. “Something I really appreciate about Milo is he’s just this soul that radiates affinity and just makes everyone feel at home. And he’s so fun to be around and to work with.”
On top of that, she was grateful for her costar’s “hunger” to get the story right and his thoughtful consideration towards her and their characters.
“The thing I think we respect about each other is we felt the duty to fulfill the roles the right way,” Milo summarized. “It could’ve been really frustrating had the person opposite you had not felt the same way. And I think we’re both very grateful to have had each other throughout this.”
Journey to Bethlehem is available to watch in theatres now.
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