Podtalks: Josh Mostel & Barry Dennen of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

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CHICAGO – In 1973, director Norman Jewison fashioned a radical film version of the rock opera/Broadway show “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and the cinematic innovations plus stellar cast equaled a timeless movie musical classic. Josh Mostel portrayed King Herod and Barry Dennen was Pontius Pilate in the iconic film.

Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS) began it’s life as a rock opera, a concept record released in 1969 with Ian Gillan of the rock group Deep Purple singing the part of Jesus. Two key members of the album’s cast went on to do the film … Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene and Barry Dennen as Pontius Pilate. The Broadway show adaptation opened two years later (again with Elliman and Dennen, the only two to do all three original versions), and the 1973 film followed with Ted Neeley as Jesus.

Josh Mostel as King Herod and Barry Dennen as Pontius Pilate in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
Photo credit: Universal Studios Home Video

In 2013, Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com got the opportunity to interview the principle cast of the film – Ted Neeley and Yvonne Elliman, as well as Josh Mostel and Barry Dennen. For the first time, to kick off Easter weekend, the Mostel and Dennen interviews are published below for the first time, in two special the-interviewer-has-laryngitis Podtalks. The Neeley and Elliman interviews can be accessed by clicking links on Page Two. Joe Arce took the Exclusive Photos.

StarJosh Mostel, King Herod in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Josh Mostel in Chicago, circa 2013
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Josh Mostel not only practically stole the JCS film in his ten minute appearance, memorably singing and dancing “King Herod’s Song,” he also has a long and diverse career in show business. Born in New York City, the son of stage icon and comic actor Zero Mostel, Josh made his Broadway debut in 1971 with “Unlikely Heroes” and his film debut the same year with “Going Home.”

Throughout the next decade he had roles in “The King of Marvin Gardens” (1972), “Harry and Tonto" (1974, with Art Carney) and “Sophie’s Choice” (1982), and has forged a career in stage and screen ever since. He also has a footnote in television history, portraying the brother of Bluto (John Belushi) in 1979’s “Delta House,” the TV version of the infamous film “Animal House.” The adaptation lasted 13 episodes.

In a Podtalk in 2013 with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, Josh Mostel talks Superstar, his famous Dad and of course, “Delta House.”

Go to PAGE TWO for a Podtalk with Barry Dennen, who portrayed Pontius Pilate in the original album and film version of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.

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