In Breakthrough, releasing this week from 20th Century Fox, Chrissy Metz stars as Joyce Smith, a praying mother who witnesses a miracle when her son John is raised from the dead. Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama) co-stars as Joyce’s husband, Brian, who is torn between mourning his son and pressing through the pain to support his faith-filled wife. In an onset interview, Josh explained what drew him to the project and how the story impacted his own life.
Josh, what appealed to you about this script when you read it? And when this project came to you? What really stood out to you? I know it’s an amazing story, so what was it that kind of grabbed your attention.
Josh: The obvious thing is the extraordinary, miraculous, mind-blowing, true story. One of the things that struck me was my mother’s a midwife who delivered babies, my father is an emergency room doctor and, in both cases, they have incidents like this one; their stories are not necessarily the scope of this miracle but they have moments in their medical careers where things have happened they can’t explain. You can look at it from a spiritual standpoint or as something that is unknowable about human existence. They said that miraculous things happened in both my mother’s case delivering babies, and my father’s case dealing with people in severe crisis in an emergency room. I guess that’s partly what struck me about it. I thought this story was so profound and beautiful. I keep saying this story gave me goosebumps. I’ve read this screenplay now multiple times, and every time I read it, it gives me goosebumps even though I know what’s going to happen. That to me is what you hope for as a storyteller, or someone who’s going to watch a movie.
So, it’s an honor to be a part of something like this, because so many movies might bring people down.
Absolutely. I think that there are movies that bring people down in thoughtful ways and there are movies that bring people down in negative ways. In this case, this is exactly the opposite. This is a movie that is wildly uplifting and inspiring but at the same time, it also deals with every parent’s nightmare. For a big chunk of the movie, it’s interesting cause I thought about it. Had this story ended very differently, I would not have done this movie.
How did being a father flavor your performance?
You know I read this screenplay, and I’m at a point in my life where I really dislike leaving my son, he’s only five years old and we are very close. I was driving him to school and I told him the story. He was completely silent the whole time as he listened to it. Then when I got to the point when I told him about the community coming together and holding hands and praying and singing outside the hospital, and inside the hospital. He said, “You got to do this movie Dad, it’s not that long”.He said to me yesterday I saw him [inaudible 00:09:33] to see him for the day, but he said, “I think you should only do true stories, cause they’re better”. I said, “Why are they better”, he said, “Cause they’re true”. It interesting, this movie, I don’t think it really have any impact if it wasn’t a true story. When I read the script I put it down and immediately went online. Wow. This is true. Being a father ultimately impacts, particularly my playing of the character, because I can see why he would be so … the pain is incomprehensible and the love is incomprehensible too meaning John and Brian had this very special relationship where they were great friends. Which is part of the conflict that happened in the dynamic between John and his mom, and me and my wife. That’s a piece of the story that I like a lot.
Was your faith strengthened by the movie, the way you might hope that will happen to people who watch it?
Josh: I think it would be impossible to see this movie or look at this story and not be struck by wonder, or at least want to know more. I do think it increases faith, without a doubt. I think any time there is a miraculous moment, like I said, go back to what I said about my mother delivering babies or my dad inside the hospital ER, where those moments of the Spirit, whatever it is that you can’t put your finger on, it’s striking, it’s impactful in a way that I think is very positive. That’s what I think of that.
Read more coverage of Breakthrough here.