Your reputation is set. You’ve won Emmies. For the most part, you’ve avoided faith-based films. What made you want to make a Christian movie?
I don’t really see it as a Christian movie, I see it as a comedy.
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.
There’s a movie out now called The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. There’s a lot of language in it but it’s a very Christian, it’s a movie about forgiveness. So it’s not a quote unquote Christian movie.
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 think that’s what’s kept me away from participating in something that’s quote or quote Christian. Because I don’t like to put it in categories.
And I don’t think that God puts people in categories like that. We have no idea where people are in their walk. And so we cannot label. We can only have compassion for people and follow the walk that we know. And hopefully impact people in a positive way in their lives by our own walk.
I find that once they are labeled as something, it puts limits on you , I you label it as a Christian movie. And then often there is less expectation for quality. So that’s the other problem. So that’s why I had not been interested in pursuing something like that because it goes against my own feeling as…artist is a bit of a lofty word which I don’t like to use, I do TV COMEDY, you know, but just as an actor.
It’s sort of like you don’t want to be restricted by somebody else’s notion of what is Christian or not Christian. It’s not that I say anything goes and there’s’ some stuff that’s exploitative, and obviously it’s very apparent to me when that’s going on.
But what’ I was happy to see in this movie is that this is the first comedy being done by this group of filmmakers. I think that people who prefer who go to movies where they know for sure what content is going to be, they deserve to have comedies. It doesn’t all have to be a heavy message movie. Comedies are just a great fun way to lift your spirit and when your spirit is lifted like that, it can be more open to receiving God in your life, and whatever he has for you.
So that’s what made me excited, I think, trying to get to that point where you don’t have to have some kind of separate category for a quote unquote Christian movie. To me it’s not a Christian movie, it’s a comedy about husbands and wives and families and the characters happen to be Christians. That’s what it is. It’s not a Christian movie.
I feel so blessed that this is what I get to do because it’s so much fun.
What would you say to Peter Boyle when you see him in Heaven?
Well, we’ll just probably continue our political discussions that we were having on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond where he’d call me sort of a right wing crazy wingnut and I’d call him a fascist commie pinko. But we’re both Catholics so we had a lot of fun together. He’s a great guy.
On being a mentor on the set of Mom’s Night Out:
I love this business so much and I love being able to make my living at it. Everybody is so nice too. I learn a lot myself. This was kind of a step for me. I’ve never been to Alabama and I’ve never worked with this crew before.
On parenting and the power of culture in kids’ lives:
It’s a little harder now than it was when I raised my boys because now I think little kids have their hands on, as young as four, know about phones and gaming where as when my oldest who’s now 19, 19 years ago, that wasn’t as prevalent, and you could hold off on all this stuff until they were like in 6th grade.
Now they’re using iPads at school. There’s no getting away from it. So you have to sort of embrace it on the one hand but be very clear…you have to guard them and put limits on things and really know what they’re looking at and seeing. I thankfully, teenage boys are heavy sleepers cuz I can go into their rooms and take their phones and read their text messages and look at what sites they’ve been on and then sneakily, like two days later, bring up a topic related to what they’ve been tweeting about. I think it’s hard. I think it’s really hard right now. You have to be super super vigilant as a parent.
On being Conservative in Hollywood and politics:
My personal experience is that we’re all professionals on our set. The most important thing just as far as working goes is that you are a professional, that you show up on time, you are pleasant to work with, you know your lines, you ‘re good at what you do.
As long as that’s happening, there are no issues. Everyone is very free. We don’t really talk about politics on the set. There was some of it because there was an election cycle this past year. And with those people whose politics I know and perhaps disagree with, because we love each other, we have very civil debates about things.
I think the issue… I think everyone wants the country to be a better place. Everyone wants the economy to be better. Everybody wants people to be able to afford health care. How do you achieve that is where the difference comes in. Really, our foundational issues are all the same. We all feel the same way. It’s about how do you implement those things. That’s where the difference comes in.
There are many media outlets set up purely to ferment disagreement. And ferment this kind of division between people. And that’s really sad. And it’s easy to get sucked into that because they tell…whichever side you’re on, they tell you what you want to hear and get you all riled up. It’s taken me a while to say that just doesn’t accomplish anything. I just don’t want to play that game anymore. So you wanna stand up for what you believe is right and that’s all you can do really.