A host of actors take on a slew of holy -- and unholy -- roles on the big and small screen

By Laura Morgan
December 10, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

God is everywhere—specially in recent Hollywood casting sessions. Alanis Morissette—who lords over Dogma—is just one of several stars acting all high and mighty in coming months. And as might be expected from show business, Satan is even more popular (Gabriel Byrne kicks off the evildoing in End of Days). How do the deities and devils stack up? We sought the wisdom of the God Squad, Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman, who comment on religious matters for ABC’s Good Morning America.


INCARNATION Morissette in Dogma JUDGMENT ”I am open to having a woman be God,” says Gellman. ”But Morissette has to sing kinder music. If she sang more Sinatra songs she could be God.” Counters Hartman: ”It’s hard to really picture God as a woman. And her beard isn’t long enough.”

INCARNATION James Garner in NBC’s upcoming animated series God, The Devil and Bob JUDGMENT ”He showed he’s a good problem solver in The Rockford Files,” says Gellman. ”But I do not like my God to have a gunslinger past.” Concurs Hartman, ”God doesn’t shoot anyone.”

INCARNATION Billy Crystal, reportedly attached to star in an Oh, God! remake JUDGMENT ”Great sense of humor,” says Gellman. ”Any God who created the platypus has a sense of humor. But [Crystal] is a little wimpy.” Adds Hartman, ”He seems compassionate, so he’d probably be good with advice.”


INCARNATION Byrne in the just-released apocalyptic thriller End of Days JUDGMENT ”A very suave devil,” says Gellman. ”Good for urban devil worshipers.” Hartman passes: ”I don’t know who he is and I have no intention of seeing the movie.”

INCARNATION Alan Cumming, in NBC’s upcoming comedy God, the Devil and Bob, a replacement for Robert Downey Jr. JUDGMENT ”Broadway has a lot of repenting to do, but anyone with a British accent is too charming to be the devil,” says Hartman.

INCARNATION Downey Jr., originally cast in God, the Devil and Bob before being sentenced to prison JUDGMENT ”Good Method acting preparation but too vulnerable,” scoffs Gellman. Says Hartman, ”Some people live up to their roles in real life.”

INCARNATION Rhea Perlman from the recent ABC movie H-E-Double Hockey Sticks JUDGMENT ”Definitely devil-level sarcasm, but women are still too nurturing to be devils,” says Gellman. ”Anyone married to Danny DeVito is already going to heaven,” argues Hartman.

INCARNATION Harvey Keitel in the upcoming New Line comedy Little Nicky JUDGMENT ”Steely impenetrability, great strength,” says an impressed Gellman, ”but I haven’t seen him with a pitchfork lately.” Hartman cryptically warns, ”Harvey, it’s time to repent.”