PG for thematic material and some peril
Sept. 26, 2008
Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Jason McLeod
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Kirk Cameron Talks Fireproof
By Jesse Carey
- This weekend, Fireproof, a movie made by Sherwood Baptist Church (the Georgia congregation that was behind the indie hit Facing the Giants), took in more than $6 million at the box office, making it the No. 4 movie in the country. The film stars Kirk Cameron as a firefighter struggling to save his marriage and find faith. We recently spoke with Cameron who discussed the movie’s success, why it is resonating with audiences and what role the Church has in popular culture.
Did the strong response to the film take you guys by surprise?
It did take us by surprise. I think that Sony’s hope was for it to crack the top 10, and the unbelievable goal was to be in the top five. So No. 4 in America is exceeding everyone’s expectations. Even the reviewers and the critics are scratching their heads wondering where in the world Fireproof came from.
We’re very thankful that people are not only turning out to see it, but that people are really turning their hearts toward God and restoring their marriages.
Why do you think that the theme of restoring a broken marriage is connecting with so many people?
Well since the beginning of time, boy met girl, and they wanted to fall in love and experience love for a lifetime. People walk to the front of the church and say “I do” everyday of the year, never wanting to be divorced. And unfortunately, most people have never been taught what love is and how to demonstrate it. They confuse love with lust and think that love is a feeling you fall into, and when you fall out of it, you just chuck the relationship.
Fireproof is giving people hope, and it’s giving them practical ways of restoring marriages that have gone flat and have died out and is bringing life back to them again.
Caleb, your character in the film, is struggling with a lot of things—anger, sin and a struggling marriage. Was it hard to get into such a dark character?
Yeah, it definitely was. Because this character, Caleb Holt, is a really aggressive, type-A, macho man, bully kind of a guy. And that was a bit of a stretch for me to play; it’s not quite my personality—at least I don’t think so (laughs). I’m just not living in that place with all the anger and the frustration. It was a challenge, but I think necessary to show what real marriage is like.
When you first read the script and saw how emotionally damaged the character was, did you have any hesitation?
No, not really. That’s really a joy for an actor—to be able to play characters who are not like him. For me, this was a big stretch and different from the characters that I’ve played in the past. But it was exciting. That’s what you hope for as an actor—that you get to do something different.
The film was produced Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia—kind of an unlikely place to be making movies. Do you think Fireproof’s success will inspire more churches to break into the entertainment business?
It already has. People say, “Well if somebody from Albany, Georgia can do it, anybody can do it.” And fundamentality, I think that’s true. If you have talent and you’ve got people who will come together and seek the Lord, and seek His blessing on a project like this, sure you can do it. But I know for Fireproof and Sherwood that unity, prayer and excellence are the things that they really count on.
Have you heard any stories from people who have seen the movie that have been impacted?
We’ve gotten so many emails. I’ll share a few of them with you. One man stood up in the back after the movie and said, “I am Caleb Holt! And I need 10 men to pray for me and my marriage right now!”
There have been stories of men and women that were seen out in the parking lot outside of the movie theater holding hands and recommitting themselves to one another.
I got an email from a guy that said his wife gave him divorce papers on Monday, and Friday they went to see the movie together. On Saturday they canceled the divorce hearings.
Many times, it seems like Hollywood and the Church are on different sides of the fence when it comes to values and faith. With the success of movies like Fireproof, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Passion, is the tide starting to turn?
Well I think that the Gospel and popular culture will always be on opposite sides of the fence, because just by nature, the Gospel is going to ruffle people’s feathers. I think we have to understand that. But that’s not to say that movies that contain the Gospel or are driven by a thread of faith will not resonate with popular culture.
People want marriages to work. They enter into marriages all the time—never with the expectation that it’s going to end in a disastrous divorce. If people can find help and hope and inspiration by turning their hearts to God while watching other people do that and having their lives put back together, I think that is always going to resonate with people. And for those of us who know the Lord and are Christians, we can testify that, “Yeah, that’s absolutely true. The Lord does change your life. Not always in the way that you think, but in the way that’s best.” And there’s going to be people that respond to that.
It’s always easy to sit back and point your finger at the enemy, or what you think is the enemy, but culture is not the enemy. We just need to redeem culture. Christ never called us to retreat from the culture, but to infiltrate it and to be salt and light in the world.
So what we ought to do instead of just handing the television and movie screens over to people who couldn’t care less about goodness and godliness and the things that are lasting and true, we should say, “No, let’s redeem them!” Let’s get in places where we can actually produce and make positive projects that are really going to impact the culture and are really going to help our families.
More movie reviews on CBN.com
More about Fireproof on CBN.com
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Jesse Carey is the Interactive Media Producer for CBN.com. With a background in entertainment and pop-culture writing, he offers his insight on music, movies, TV, trends and current events from a unique perspective that examines what implications the latest news has on Christians.
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