WASHINGTON — Live long enough and life can be filled with strange symmetries. Rep. John Lewis has seen that to be true several times this year.

He has twice viewed the Golden Globe-nominated movie “Selma,” which depicts a series of historic civil rights marches from a small Alabama town to the state’s capitol. Lewis, who is portrayed by an actor in the film, helped to lead the protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 and found the experience of watching the events reenacted on film to be surreal.

“I grew up not far from Selma,” Lewis said in an interview this month. “When we would go to the theater as young black children, we had to go upstairs to the balcony and all the little white children went downstairs to the first floor.”

He paused for a heavy moment and continued: “Seeing myself being played is almost too much.”

Lewis, who has represented Atlanta on Capitol Hill for nearly three decades, was a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and is an important character in the “Selma” movie, which was released Christmas Day.

It is a narrative of the historic march for voting rights that included the vicious beating of 600 marchers by law enforcement officials on the bridge in Selma. Lewis’s head was bloodied by a lawman’s club.

This summer, on the day that Lewis stepped onto the set of the movie in Atlanta, he had another experience that was “almost too much.” There he watched the cast as they filmed a reenactment of the funeral of Jimmie Lee Jackson, one of the little-remembered martyrs of the civil rights movement. Lewis, a student leader of the movement at the time of Jackson’s death, was in the pews of a Marion, Alabama church and listened then as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the eulogy for Jackson in February 1965.

Jackson, a 26-year-old civil rights protester who was shot and killed by an Alabama state trooper, was a “hero of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity,” King told the crowd. At the end of the funeral, Lewis walked out of the church and into a drenching rain.

It felt like more than happenstance when Lewis again stepped out into a pouring rain at the conclusion of his day on the movie set.

“It was sort of eerie,” Lewis said.

Lewis has watched closely the burgeoning protest movement that has brought peaceful marchers to city streets around the country following grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the shootings of unarmed black men.

“What is happening is not like a firecracker where you just come and pop off and make a lot of noise, and you’re gone,” Lewis said. “It’s more like a pilot light that continues to burn.”