Jesus Christ Superstar Live airs live tonight on the NBC network, with John Legend playing the role of Jesus Christ, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene and Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas. Legendary rocker Alice Cooper has taken on the role of King Herod and he is no stranger to Jesus Christ Superstar, as he previously played the same role of King Herod in the 1996 London stage production, according to the New York Post. When the “School’s Out” singer recorded a version of “King Herod’s Song”, it was alongside the original cast, but he did not actually act on stage. But, when gearing up for his acting role in tonight’s live production, Cooper told Rolling Stone, “To prepare for the role, I keep thinking, ‘Who’s the most cynical character that this could be?’ And I keep coming back to Alan Rickman. He would have been the perfect Herod. So that’s the way I want to do it.”
Cooper, who just turned 70 years old, had a hectic schedule to work around in order for him to be able to participate in the show. Cooper is a touring magician. Lead John Legend had a similar issue, as he has 10 tour dates to deal with as well. Cooper is a Christian and he was asked by Rolling Stone if it was hard for him to play a role like King Herod. Cooper said that it wasn’t an issue, but he admitted, “In the back of my brain, there are times when I get really mad when I read the Passion Play on how Jesus was treated, and it really angers you. Then at the same time, you go, ‘Oh, wait a minute, I’m playing the part of one of the guys that does this.’ I look at it purely as a piece of art, and it’s directly out of the Bible. I might have a harder time playing Judas than I would playing Herod. It would be hard to play the guy that stabs him in the back.”
In an interview with WYFF, Cooper revealed that he actually has a religious background, which may surprise some. He stated that, “I grew up in the church. “Went as far away as you could go and then came back. So here I am — a Christian — playing … the guy that is going to condemn Christ. I think that anyone that’s Christian knows the real version of (the story.) I think it does bring Jesus into focus for the the rest of the world that is not believers.”
Cooper told the Daily Beast that it’s not surprising that he plays a villain, like in Jesus Christ Superstar Live, explaining that, “It’s not like anyone’s ever going to cast me as the guy untying the girl on the railroad track. But I love playing the villain.” And when it comes to his character, he says that, “He’s a bundle of paranoia and ego. I said I’ve got to play him very condescending. He’s got to be very arrogant, very Alan Rickman-like.” The Alice in Chains rocker said he’s excited to be a part of the production.
Tune in to the NBC network tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT and 7 p.m. CT for the live showing.