‘The Chosen’ actor Paras Patel says portraying Matthew has ‘given me my purpose’

Paras Patel as Matthew Actor Paras Patel as Matthew in the hit series “The Chosen.” | Credit: “The Chosen”

[Editor’s note: The following article may contain spoilers.]

Season 4 of the hit series “The Chosen” has been officially released for streaming exclusively on “The Chosen” app, and fan-favorite Paras Patel, who portrays Matthew in the series, recently spoke to CNA about his role in the show and how it has impacted him as a person. 

The actor said that being able to portray Matthew, specifically as someone who has autism, and have so many people share how his portrayal has touched their lives has “really given me my purpose as an artist.”

“The Chosen” is the first-ever multi-season show about the life of Jesus and became the most successful crowdfunded TV series or film project in history. 

Season 4 focuses on the time leading up to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and includes important biblical moments such as the raising of Lazarus and the healing of the Roman Centurion’s servant.

Jesus and his disciples during Season 4 of "The Chosen." Credit: The Chosen/Mike Kubeisy
Jesus and his disciples during Season 4 of "The Chosen." Credit: The Chosen/Mike Kubeisy

After many episodes of tension between Matthew and Simon Peter, a heartfelt scene of forgiveness between the two serves as a reminder of Jesus’ message to forgive “not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times” (Mt 18:22). 

Patel explained that his character started his “apology tour” in Season 3 when Matthew reconciled with his parents. 

“Matthew, knowing who he is and becoming the person that he is, he always wants to make right of his wrongs — he feels the guilt and the shame,” he said. “So that carries into Season 4.”

He added: “That’s something that I love when I portray Matthew, because it really teaches us as the audience of what that can look like and kind of helps us want to do the right things in our lives with obstacles that have come our way.”

Fans of the show highlight the growth witnessed in Matthew since Season 1. Patel likes to describe the growth as Matthew becoming “activated.”

“I like to say that Matthew, when he was at the tax booth, was not activated, meaning nobody saw anything in him. Nobody valued him, people just ignored him. They spit on him. They didn’t give him his worth,” he said. “And it took one person that kind of shined a light straight into his heart and gave him the confidence he needed to make him into one of the most famous scribes in history.”

Patel said he has “learned so much” from playing Matthew and pointed out that “it’s so rare to have a character really impacting you.”

“Matthew teaches me so much about just… honestly, it sounds simple… but it’s just listening,” he shared. “Listening to one another, hearing other people’s thoughts, giving them space to feel comfortable, giving them a safe space to be open.”

He added: “I learn about not judging others so easily. I learn about respecting one another and just really trying to hear someone else out and hear their heart and not judge a book by its cover.”

Patel has shared that fans around the world send him messages thanking him for his portrayal of someone with autism because it gives them or their children someone they can relate to. Because of this, Patel has become a proud advocate for the autism community.

“It means a lot because a lot of times when you’re working in this industry, you’re just kind of doing job to job,” Patel said. “So, being an ambassador for the autism community has been so special for me because I never thought that I would be kind of the face of it through our show, and it’s something that I am very passionate about.”

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While doing press in Brazil for Season 4, Patel told CNA that he encountered several people thanking him for his portrayal of Matthew and thanking him for providing a term for his behaviors because they previously did not have a word for autism. 

“Several times when I was there, I was thanked for the show. They said, ‘Thank you for letting us know what this is. We didn’t know the word is autistic for this behavior,’” he recalled. “They didn’t know the word for it until they watched the show. So that is literally the impact that the show has had globally and it’s very moving to be a part of.”

The highly anticipated release of Season 4 comes after a delay due to legal issues between “The Chosen” and Angel Studios. 

After episode one was released on June 2, the show’s app climbed to the No. 1 overall app in the Apple TV app store and to the No. 2 free app in the mobile iOS App Store. 

The season premiere had an impressive 3.5 million streams following the release of Episode 1 and 4.2 million streams across households in the U.S. over the first three days. During the first 72 hours, the stream on YouTube and the app alone yielded more than 2.5 million total viewers.

CNA's full interview with Patel can be viewed in full below.

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