Marchiano was born in Orange County, California. His father is of Italian descent while his mother is Syrian. His first role was in a 1985 episode of Murder, She Wrote, which was followed by appearances in LA Law, Columbo, and the low-budget horror film, The Bite. Before his roles as Jesus he was often cast as a villain and he jokes that Jesus was the first nice guy he ever played.
Marchiano runs Bruce Marchiano Ministries, a non-profit ministry based out of North Hollywood, California. He speaks 20 to 25 times a year in various venues all around the world and has written several books, most on the subject of Jesus and the experience of portraying him on the silver screen. Marchiano does not perform as Jesus as part of his speaking ministry.
He has played Jesus in two recent films. In 2009's Road to Emmaus Marchiano portrays Christ's mysterious post-resurrection appearance to two disciples, described in the Gospel of Luke. In the computer animated Christian children's film Lion of Judah (2010) he voices an animated Jesus who meets a group of barnyard animal friends.
Marchiano's primary project currently is development of a word-for-word film adaptation of the Gospel According to John titled Jesus... No Greater Love, on which he is serving as screenwriter. He may also reprise his role as Jesus. His idea for a new movie has received endorsements from several Christian ministries; Marchiano announced on April 3, 2010 that the film's funding goal of $45 million by March 1 had not been reached. Only $300,000 had been received by that date. The date to achieve funding has been reset for the end of 2010.
After growing up in a strong Catholic home Marchiano became a born again Christian around 1990, the result of his contact with fellow actors who had previously become Christians themselves. Marchiano is unmarried.