Inside ‘GodlyWood:’ A Day on the Set of a ‘Christian’ Movie

The Varying Cast of Mom’s Night Out

“I don’t require my actors to be Christians, I want the best person for the part,” Erwin says and the assembled cast has many shades of belief about faith and Hollywood.

Patricia Heaton, star of The Middle and Everybody Loves Raymond has never shied away from expressing her faith or her political views. Over her long and successful career, she has had ample time to think about the intersection of faith and film. It’s no surprise that she easily quotes C.S. Lewis in the same breath as unpacking a current secular Ryan Gosling indie film. Just don’t call the project “Christian.”

I don’t see movies as Christian or non-Christian. I think CS Lewis, somebody asked him, how do you write books for children. And he said you never want to write a message. What you want to do is you want to let the characters come out of you and those characters will be naturally endowed with a certain spirituality…

I think part of the problem we have in our culture is that there’s a divide where we say these things are Christian and these things are not….I don’t like to put it in categories. And I don’t think that God puts people in categories like that.

Read more of our interview with Patricia Heaton.

Grey’s Anatomy cast member Sarah Drew headlines the movie. Drew, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, sees synergy and not tension between her faith and her job as an actor:

I’ve met Christians everywhere I go, I’ve met Christians on every set I’ve been on, in the crew, the cast, everywhere. I’ve met producers who are Christians and are producing secular shows. So much beauty and truth can be found in every, in every different show that’s there. It might not be appropriate for children, for people of all ages, but I do think that, um, that that truth is a beautiful truth that people want, stories people want to tell. I’ve found it everywhere. I have. 

Read more of our interview with Sarah Drew

Sean Astin, forever famous as Samwise Gamgee, doesn’t hesitate to call the movie a “Christian” movie. In fact, he happily parses his own complicated faith journey for the religious press who would like to have a faith box in which to safely categorize him: “My Christianity takes a long time to unpack, but basically if you want to cut right to the judgement of it all, we were all baptized in my wife’s Lutheran church in Indiana.”

Instead, Astin is more interested in the fact that, unlike Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, this film centers on women:

One of the cool things about this Christian movie is that it has a strong female and she’s going through an experience, usually I see it’s a guy going through the experience…So I think women will appreciate that some filmmakers have identified the fact that what women go through is complex and funny and worthy of consideration.

Read more of our interview with Sean Astin

Mom’s Night Out is due to be released in theaters nationwide in 2014. In the meantime, the Kendrick brothers have left Sherwood Pictures to start their own production company and the Erwin brothers plan to keep filming right on home in Alabama.

India has Bollywood, Nigeria has Nollywood. If they are building a new center of Christian filmmaking in the American South, what should they call it, I ask. Erwin smiles and says “I’ll let you coin that phrase in your headline,” but one of his actors comes up with a mot juste: GodlyWood, he dubs it.

Maybe it will stick.

 

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About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey


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