Interview round-up: The writer, producer and stars of Samson

Interview round-up: The writer, producer and stars of Samson February 17, 2018

Now that Samson is in theatres, here’s a quick round-up of some of the interviews that the actors and other people involved with the film have done to promote it.

First, of course, there is my interview with lead actor Taylor James.

James also spoke to Lifezette . . .

Through his time in Sunday school while growing up in Sevenoaks — in Kent, England — James was partly aware of the story of Samson. But he didn’t realize the potential of the story until he began his own research and talked to others about what the story meant to them.

“It was when I was doing the research that I just fell in love with the opportunity of how we could tell the story on a cinematic platform. You don’t want ‘Samson’ to be a radio play, let me tell you that. You want ‘Samson’ to be a film,” said James.

. . . and my Patheos colleague DeWayne Hamby:

The writers flesh out the character of Samson. Everyone knows his highlights and this movie has more of a backstory. What are some of the ways you identified with him?

His struggle for me was his reluctance to walk the path that was laid out for him and I had to see why he was reluctant, that he had youthful emotions and youthful qualities. I had to remember what it was like for that, someone’s who very reluctant to do things. Not saying he’s spoiled. He’s hard-headed, he’s passionate. He had all these youthful emotions that we learn to control as we get older and we learn to use to get the benefit from them. We use them for fuel. I wanted to know why he was reluctant. When I tapped into that mind frame and saw that he wanted love and then when he lost the love, the fear came in and those were the next steps toward redemption.

Lifezette also spoke to Rutger Hauer, who plays Samson’s father Manoah:

Hauer stars as Samson’s father, and he was interested in the project and its take on the classic story from the beginning. However, the movie fell through early on, and Hauer was ready to move on to other things.

“I sort of gave up on it,” Hauer, who was born in the Netherlands and now works out of Los Angeles, said in an interview with LifeZette about “Samson.” When the picture came together again at the last minute, Hauer jumped onto a plane and threw himself into his character.

“I think it’s a story that can be told many times because it has a lot of elements in it,” he said of the film, which is just the latest cinematic telling of this biblical story. Previous versions include a Cecil B. Demille-directed picture and a ’90s telefilm. “This is sort of like the history of where we came from, in a way.” . . .

Said Hauer, “In stories like this, you don’t really have much more than what your costume says and what your makeup is — and the rest is whatever you can bring to it that makes sense.”

Meanwhile, the Amarillo Globe-News spoke to screenwriter Jason Baumgardner:

“As the credits went up, one of the most emotional parts for me was seeing the credits and all these jobs that were created from me sitting down at a coffee shop and putting words on a page,” he said. “As far as the characters and how the story is set up, it’s pretty much ours.” . . .

“I’ve always had this idea — and this was even from film school — but to adapt this big idea to a movie,” he said. “I wanted to do this ‘Braveheart’ Biblical epic that has never really been made. Samson came to mind.

“Really, it’s the 6-year-old boy in me. Superheroes are a big deal right now. If you believe in the Biblical narrative as I do, he was this real superhero who actually lived.” . . .

Eventually, the script made its way in 2015 to Pure Flix, which wanted to option it. But the movie was still a bit of a darkhorse. Baumgardner and Smith had some new marching orders — don’t make it an R rating. So they rewrote and dialed it back, perhaps leaving Delilah a little more to the imagination.

And now for the video interviews:

Taylor James and Caitlin Leahy, who plays Delilah, spoke about the movie on Pure Talk, a talk show produced by Pure Flix, the studio that made Samson:

James also spoke to EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo:

Keturah TV spoke to Lindsay Wagner, who plays Samson’s mother, and James:

Bonnie Laufer Krebs did a Skype interview with James and Wagner:

James and Wagner also spoke to KATU in Portland, Oregon

… and Wish TV in Indianapolis

… and Newsmax:

Wagner also spoke to NBC’s Today show (video not embeddable).

The Brandon James Show spoke to producer Brittany Yost (who confirms that Samson was shot, in part, on the sets that had been built for Of Kings & Prophets):

If any other interviews come my way, I will add them to this post.

February 20 update: Taylor James also spoke to The Christian Post:

“There were many days when we first started filming, and this has never happened in my career before, but Bruce would say a prayer and it became something that I lent on and I [would] ask a lot more from him,” James admitted.

“There were days where I just said to him, ‘Bruce, can we just have a moment before this scene?’ I felt comforted just like a father figure. So for me, that was probably the one take away from the experience with ‘Samson’ and the Pure Flix team that was never an option or hadn’t been there on other projects.”

James, who spoke openly about the importance of religion and the value it provides to others, said the religious practice of prayer will stick with him beyond this film.

“Giving someone that option, to invite you to meditate or invite you to prayer, it’s a wonderful thing! I think I will definitely take it with me. Some days it will be a prayer and some days it will be a little bit of mindfulness, and sometimes it’ll be just a little bit of calm,” he said.

And Rutger Hauer spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in Berlin:

What was it like to play Samson’s father in your new film, which just came out in the U.S.?

Well it was 40 degrees on a hill, with fake hair put all over my body. That’s what it was like. But the story is great: We all know it but it’s been told in a really adventurous, action way. It keeps moving.

February 22 update: Rutger Hauer spoke to Nell Minow for

In this film, your character faces some significant challenges as the father of a man of extraordinary strength but not always extraordinary judgment.

What basically jumped off of the page I would say is a very strict, stoic father who has no relationship with his son other than telling him what to do and of course that’s kind of boring. So it was my task talking to the director to make it a man who was trying to warn his son that he’s drifting off, taking risks, and getting worse and worse and worse. His son is reluctant to hear him and by the time he does it’s a little bit late, but it was their way. Of course you know that he has another son, the younger son. I had to see if I could create some sort of a bond between them; a smile between me and [director] Bruce Macdonald really helped me along in trying to get that done in the time that I had. The other thing was in some instances like this you don’t really have the backstory and there is very little to draw from other than the sandals and a lot of hair. The smile was the hard part to get in there, the smile between the characters. I always think you shouldn’t forget about that.

And Lindsay Wagner spoke to Fox News:

And while some fans may be surprised to see Wagner appear in a faith-based film, the choice was a natural one for the star. Wagner revealed that not only did she grow up in a Christian household, but by 1968, she relied on the guidance of her minister to help her cope with a major health battle.

February 25 update: Taylor James spoke to the Catholic News Service:

His one concession to the film was to get leaner. “If Samson is so obviously strong in his muscles — he picks up a rock off a child, or pushes a pillar — yeah, he’s a big dude, that’s what big dudes do. I wanted Samson to be as lean as possible,” said James, who estimates his body fat at 5 to 6 percent of his total weight. . . .

And, just for the record, when James was on location in South Africa filming for the movie, he bought some Samsonite luggage.

“I needed a new suitcase, and I went into the store and he showed me the stuff. The little boy in me said, ‘I want to have Samsonite,'” he said. “It’s a little chuckle to myself.”

March 2 update: Director Bruce Macdonald spoke to

Biblical movie Samson filmed on South African sets adapted from a separate production and used the country as a double for Middle Eastern story settings.

Bruce Macdonald directed the film and is also a director of South African production service company Boomtown Films.

“South Africa was an easy choice as the budget was set at $6m,” says Macdonald in comments to KFTV. “This meant we needed to find locations or existing set builds that would add production value to the film instantly.

“Of Kings and Prophets had just done extensive builds so we piggybacked off their sets and did design changes to suit our period. Working off existing structures saved the film millions. . . .”

March 13 update: Caitlin Leahy spoke to Seat 42F:

What was the initial appeal for you about portraying Delilah and working on “Samson”?
Playing Delilah was an incredible opportunity. I got to play a strong, iconic, female role and the chance of a lifetime to shoot in South Africa.

How would you describe who Delilah is?
‘Delilah’ is commonly known as a wicked temptress, but in the film, her story is more flushed out. She is given the task to find the secret to Samson’s strength. In doing so, she is torn between love and betrayal.

If any other interviews come my way, I will add them to this post.

Check out earlier Samson trailers and other videos here:

  1. The teaser trailer (October 24, 2017)
  2. The ‘The Heart of the Movie’ featurette (December 21, 2017)
  3. The first full trailer (January 4, 2018)
  4. The ‘Reminded of His Calling’, ‘The Riddle’, ‘Seeks a Second Chance’ and ‘Finishes Strong’ clips (January 30, 2018)
  5. The ‘Babysitting’, ‘Men’s Group’, ‘Goat Yoga’ and ‘Samson Accepts a Riddle Challenge’ videos, the ‘Ministry Endorsement’ featurette, and the ‘Samson Scores Ultimate Victory!’, ‘A Flawed and Faithful Hero!’, ‘Love DOES Conquer All’, ‘Betrayed by Love, Redeemed by God.’, ‘A True Hero of the Faith!’ and ‘Witness the Power … Today!’ TV spots (February 10, 2018)
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