In an interview with the Orthodoxia News Agency, Jonathan Jackson spoke about his experience taking on the role of St. Joseph the Hesychast, which he called perhaps the most challenging role of his career and a great blessing:
The film depicts the life of an ascetic monk of Mt. Athos who recently has been canonized a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The title of the film bears his monastic name: Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
Scenes from his early childhood on the island of Paros, his transition and efforts in Athens, lead on to his monastic life on Mt. Athos. Having been offered the invitation by God for an ascetic life, he was tonsured a monk in 1921. He was granted many experiences of the divine but simultaneously great demonic temptations. He lived with prayer, fasting and vigil, and was granted the Grace of the Holy Spirit, while obtaining the spiritual gifts of foresight and prophecy. Elder Joseph very soon took on students, one of whom has also been canonized a saint: Elder Ephraim of Katounakia. Another three of his spiritual students became Abbots of the monasteries of Mt. Athos, just as he himself had prophesied. His spiritual children built up monastic centers in Greece, Cyprus, USA, Canada and all over the world. Elder Joseph is recognized as one of the greatest contemporary ascetic personalities of Mt. Athos, and the Church at large.
The unique film uncovers his ascetic struggles in the most deserted parts of Mt. Athos. The film is unique in that the entire life of the ascetic monk is dramatized with great precision and detail by the 5 time EMMY award winning Jonathan Jackson. It is the first time the camera lens has captured the hidden ascetic life of the monks of Mt. Athos. Elder Joseph met with experienced elders, some of whom have recently been canonized as saints.