The British actor has made only half a
dozen films. His role as Christ in From the Manger
to the Cross changed his life.
Before playing Christ in From the Manger to the
Cross, Robert Henderson-Bland had never made a film.
He was a classical theater actor, member of Sir Herbert
Beerbohm's company. He was also a bit of an adventurer: in
1906, he accompanied Lily Langtry on her six-month tour of
South Africa. Like other actors, he had no prejudices
against the new art form. But he is, in his words (Actor,
Soldier and Poet, p 31), "astounded and appalled"
when Sidney Olcott offers him, by telephone, the role of
He refused at first, but then agreed to meet the director. "Olcott
impressed and interested me immediately." The Canadian
presented him with the photos of the sequences of the escape
of the Holy Family, shot in Egypt. "I realized that no
ordinary man was handling this tremendous enterprise".
(Actor, Soldier and Poet, p 31).
Henderson-Bland is convinced. He goes to Jerusalem. A little
apart from his comrades, he plays a very penetrating and
convincing Christ. From the Manger to the Cross is a
worldwide success. The Englishman did not make a fortune out
of it, just a little fame in New York where he went at the
time of the film's release. He was invited to the city.
Everyone wants to see the phenomenon.