MIDLOTHIAN, Texas — Nick Shakoour plays Zebedee in “The Chosen” or as he likes to call him, “the character that was downloaded to me from God.”

It was a humid day in Texas as the cast and crew of “The Chosen” were in the process of filming Season 4 when Shakoour sat down with the Deseret News to talk about playing Zebedee, and his personal encounter with God.

Zebedee is the father of James and John. “When I’m in the state of Zebedee-ism, it feels like anything could happen at any given moment.” Shakoour said he loves playing his character because “He’s got a good heart. He’s spontaneous.”

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While playing Zebedee on the set of “The Chosen,” Shakoour said he’s encountered God and been influenced by the construction crew. When he first started playing the role, he wasn’t sure God existed. “And something in me opened up,” Shakoour told Ashley Key in an interview. “It was a black hole opened up and started to swallow me alive. And I heard my heart call out saying if you don’t call out to God, this is about to get really bad.

During Season 1, Episode 4, Shakoour had started running around during one of the scenes. “Back then, I described it as this energy swooped in from outside, propped me up and literally pushed me forward,” he said. “This energy took over that I couldn’t even explain. Of course now, in hindsight, it was the Holy Spirit.”

At the time, Shakoour said he didn’t know what to make of that experience.

Then, a few months ago, Shakoour said his friend Seth invited him to attend a church conference. He was reluctant to attend but felt like he should.

While at the conference, Shakoour told Key he started to pray asking God to remove the burden he felt from his family’s experience living through war in Lebanon.

Shakoour said he had an experience where he felt God in his heart. He said, “felt like I was dipped in an ocean, brought back ... and I knew the Lord right there and then.”

Shakoour learned a member of the construction crew had prayed an actor would convert to Christianity, he said in an interview with Christian Headlines. Before painting the walls of set, the crew had written Bible verses on the walls. “Incredibly, the first home they wrote Bible verses in was that of Zebedee.”

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Since then, he said he’s had a number of different experiences where he’s encountered God and his life has changed.

“I’m excited because I know even past after this life, even in the realm of eternalness with him, there’s going to be no end,” Shakoour said. “... There’s no end. And so that’s the beauty.”

It’s been “such a privilege” to hear Shakoour’s story of how he “encounter(ed) Jesus on the set, Katherine Warnock, vice president of original content at “The Chosen,” told the Deseret News in a different interview. She said watching his life change and seeing him experience deep joy is one of the most meaningful moments she’s experienced on set. 

Through tears, Shakoour told Key, “It gets me worked up because I was about to sweep God under the rug and for this to happen has blown my mind beyond belief.” Now Shakoour says, he can’t stop talking about it.