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‘Living Biblically’ star Jay R. Ferguson on how the series has changed the way he looks at life

The new sitcom is based on the book “The Year of Living Biblically” by New York author A.J. Jacobs.

Jay R. Ferguson plays Chip Curry in

Jay R. Ferguson plays Chip Curry in "Living Biblically," which airs Mondays on CBS. Photo Credit: CBS / Sonja Flemming

Who said finding religion can’t be funny?

Based on the book “The Year of Living Biblically” by New York author A.J. Jacobs, the new CBS sitcom “Living Biblically” follows Chip Curry, a newspaper movie critic who decides to live by the rules of the Bible after a series of challenges in his life.

amNewYork spoke with star Jay R. Ferguson, who plays Chip, about the show.

What’s your take on Chip?

When we meet him, he’s got a pretty happy-go-lucky existence until his best friend passes away unexpectedly and that has a real impact on him, being the same age, being so sudden. And then at the same time, he finds out his wife is pregnant and that was unexpected as well. And then he finds out he might be getting fired from his job. So he’s kind of got this confluence of crazy things happening in his life and as he goes to get some parenting books for this new child that’s coming, because he feels so lost, he ends up stumbling across a Bible and deciding to give it a try in an effort to become a better person and a more prepared father and that’s where we start our story.

Had you read the book before joining this show?

I did not know about it. I had not read it, but when the project came along, before I signed on, I went out, got the book and read it, really enjoyed it. ... I enjoy making professional decisions that are entertaining and well-intentioned, but also have something important to say. And I think this show is trying to hone in on the basic fundamentals of practicing kindness in our lives. No matter what you believe, that’s something that people should be able to get behind. The effect that it has on us as individuals, the effect it has on people around us and society at large. If our little comedy show can help promote that narrative in any way, that seems like a great opportunity to me, to just potentially be a part of that.

Have you, in your real life, found yourself living biblically?

I don’t know if I would say biblically, but I would say, touching on what I was saying before, what I enjoy about this show is it kind of illustrates no matter what you believe or whether you believe anything at all, these fundamental principles, not necessarily from the holy Bible specifically, they can be applied to almost any holy Scripture of any religion. Even people that don’t believe in any religion can subscribe to these things. So it’s that part of it that I think has certainly had an effect on my life outside of work, absolutely. It’s made me think about, when certain things might happen, how I respond to them. And I know Lindsey Kraft, who plays my wife on the show, she says the same thing. It’s been a fun little practice of all the cast. You can’t help it, I don’t think because the simplicity of it all is where it’s at. Once you realize that, you’re like, “Why am I not doing that?”

How did you help build Chip?

Well, for me, building Chip was made very easy and effortless because [series creator] Patrick Walsh’s writing and the specificity in which he wrote the character, how he wanted me to play him. So I really had very little work to do when it came to building Chip. But I will say that he’s got to walk a tight line because yes, he’s still a film critic, but also now he’s got this new column that he’s writing that kind of supersedes the other one so that kind of is where the focus drifts to, but we’re still remind that he’s still a film critic. So hopefully, we’re doing that section of our audience justice, and you won’t be disappointed.

‘Living Biblically’ airs at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS

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