Movies and television series have been presenting religious figures on screens for decades. Greek gods like Zeus have been played by everyone from Liam Neeson to Rip Torn, while Jesus Christ appears in serious - and often controversial - flicks and shows. Even Satan appears, with actors competing to offer up the most devilish version of the Dark Prince himself.
Similarly, the God of Christianity has been personified - sometimes comedically, sometimes in a more serious vein. The Christian God, as an omnipotent and omnipresent being, takes on various forms as they interact with humans on big and small screens. And all of the actors who play God bring a little something different to the deity.
Here are our favorite actors who played God - vote up the ones that did divine so well, even God would offer up an "Amen!" to the performance.
- Photo: Bruce Almighty / Universal Pictures
Morgan Freeman appeared as God in both Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty, guiding Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell, respectively. As God, Freeman brought his strong screen presence - complete with a sharp white suit - as well as his well-known voice to the role.
In Bruce Almighty, according to critic Roger Ebert:
Freeman plays God with a quality of warm detachment that is just about right, I think. You get the feeling that even while he's giving Bruce the free ride, he has a hand on the wheel, like a drivers' training instructor.
Freeman's role as God in Evan Almighty, in the words of A.O. Scott from The New York Times, was "more a practical joker than a smiter, and his intervention in human affairs... more therapeutic than punitive."
For Freeman, he said this when he was asked about agreeing to play God:
I got the feeling a long time ago, that eventually, someone was going to come up to me and say, “We want you to play this role.” I wondered, “What am I going to do?’”If it was a straight role, I wouldn’t do it, pure and simple.
- Photo: Oh, God! / Warner Bros. Pictures2449 VOTES
Legendary comedian George Burns actually played God three times - first in Oh, God! and then in the sequel, Oh, God! Book II. The third time he took up the role of the deity was a bit of double-duty, with Burns playing both God and the Devil in 1984's Oh, God! You Devil.
In the first of the Oh, God! trilogy, God actually explains why he took the form of Burns: "Because if I showed myself to you as I am, you wouldn't be able to comprehend me." According to critic Roger Ebert, "the casting of George Burns as God is an inspiration."
Ebert was impressed by Burns again in Oh, God! Book II, calling the actor "rich and understated" in the role, while Variety magazine said, "Burns is fine once again, a master of the throwaway line and well-suited to tone down the religious philosophy in the script." By the time the third movie came out, The New York Times had this to say:
Burns trots through these proceedings very spryly, with less sentimentality or sanctimoniousness than in the earlier Oh, God! films.
- Photo: Lions Gate Films3520 VOTES
When Kevin Smith's Dogma was released in 1999, it was not without controversy. Despite issues over distribution and claims the movie attacked Catholicism, many of the performances and overall creativity of Dogma received high praise.
The casting of Alanis Morissette, one of the most popular musicians of the mid-1990s, as God in Dogma surprised audiences, but originally, the rock star was supposed to play the lead role. She was unable to commit to the shooting schedule but "was offered the role of God" instead.
Morrissette found playing God to be freeing because it let her "tap into a part of me that I hadn't been able to" - a far less serious part. Morrisette was on screen briefly and had no lines, offering a mere "Nweep" at the end of the film.
- Photo: EMI Films
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Graham Chapman played several roles, including the lead as King Arthur and God. His screen-time for the latter was incredibly brief, essentially just lending his voice to God Almighty.
Chapman as God guides the group along their quest with his voice, but the image of God is that of W. G. Grace. Grace was "the greatest cricketer of all time," described in his obituary as someone who with "his great towering figure, with his strong features and full black beard, instantly commanded attention."
- Photo: 20th Television
Voice actor Harry Shearer has repeatedly voiced God along with his numerous other roles. Viewers never get to see God's face but they do get to see his five fingers - something only God and Jesus have on the show.
- Photo: 20th Television
The anthology series Miracle Workers debuted in 2019 and, with each season, finds itself in a different setting. The first season took place in heaven with actor Steve Buscemi appearing as God (he ends up working with excrement in Season 2).
Overwhelmed... I think he thought it would be fun to have his own planet and realizes that it's a lot harder than it looks and he's just sort of trying to keep his head. He's faking a lot. But he does enjoy being the boss but I don't think he really understands what it means.