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Christian Living

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Do You Believe? an Eye-Opener for Hollywood Vet Ted McGinley

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

ORLANDO, Florida -- Actor Ted McGinley has had the type of Hollywood career that most young actors can only dream about.  From being a series regular on such iconic television series as Happy Days, The Love Boat, Dynasty, and Married with Children, McGinley has carved out a very formidable presence on the television landscape over the last 35 years.

But if you were to ask him what his most fulfilling roles have been, McGinley is quick to tell you that it is likely his roles in three recent faith-based movies, including his latest turn in Do You Believe?

With Do You Believe? set to launch this week on DVD and Blu-Ray, I had the chance to sit down recently with this Hollywood veteran to discuss what is needed to keep the Christian film industry growing, how God can use any circumstance in our lives to turn us toward Him, and what his greatest hope is for Do You Believe?

Do You Believe’s the type of movie that makes you feel innately uncomfortable. When you watch it, it creates a desire for you to naturally ask questions. Is that the way you feel about making movies? Are you always trying to take projects that make you really take a step back and think about the way things are?

Well, that’s an interesting question. I wish that I were lucky enough to be in that position where I was able to choose strictly projects based on that premise. But, I have kids that I have to feed and send to college and all that stuff, so sometimes I just have to do things. My dream would be to be able to select movies constantly based on the value of the project and what it’s giving to society in some way. So this was a very rare opportunity for me where I got to be in a film where I, one, was very proud of, and two, that sort of melded in a way with some of the things that I believe. And yes, as an actor, it’s such a cool thing to be in a film that challenges people who watch it.  Life is like that, right? Life is always challenging if you’re really watching, challenging just walking down the street and you see the people who inhabit the street that everyone is facing. You might walk by an addict, you might walk by a homeless guy, you might walk by a stressed commodity broker. We’re all dealing with all this stuff all of the time. So, if your eyes are open you can’t help but see the stress on every given individual and what we’re all under. And so art is just a reflection of that. 

For me, this movie really tried to answer the question, “What lengths will you go for the cause of Christ?” Do you feel that when you’re making a movie there’s a delicate balance between making a film that’s provocative versus one’s that’s preachy?

That’s a great question, because of the challenge for faith-based movies that are going to be made in the future and the faith-based audience that’s willing to see them. This is my third faith-based film and there’s stratification. There’s an audience that wants to be beat over the head with scripture, and there’s a line that they won’t cross as far as what they’re willing to see. Then there’s a wider audience that might slowly bring in other people to the fold, if movies are made a little more subtlety, where the story is there and for those who are of faith, there’s no doubting that they see the truth of what this movie’s about. But for people who are repelled or people who will not see it because it’s faith-based, if it’s slightly more rounded and they’re slowly brought in and they don’t really know that this sort of faith is enveloping them until they see it, and they see how it really works. I just feel like that’s a sort of conundrum in a way. We want to make challenging films. Do You Believe? is very hard to watch. You have to be willing to push the envelope, in my opinion. And so I think it’s great to make a movie for one particular audience that wants a certain thing, and that will be whatever that audience is, you represent them and then give a choice to maybe a wider audience that is a little more aggressive on its edges of the envelope. You never know. I think the whole thing is to allow people to see the beauty and the magic of faith.

The overarching theme of Do You Believe? seems to be that our lives aren’t always what we would plan for or want, but God uses various circumstances in our lives to mold us in who He wants us to be. Could you comment on that a bit?

That’s interesting because I think that it’s also the theme of life. It is how it works in that God doesn’t always give you what you want; He gives you what you need.  What better mirror to life than a movie that shows that, right? And so I believe that one of the great lessons in life is that you’re not in control, that God is in control and one of the difficult things is to give up your life. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t—you are in control of what kind of condition you keep yourself and how you treat other people. You are in control of those things, but you never know when you might discover you have cancer, or your wife or your mother, or whomever. That’s just how it goes. It is a challenging life, and you’re constantly confronted with difficult choices and decisions, and so who do you want to be?

Based on what you just said, a big takeaway for me in the film is that our lives truly matter to God, from a homeless mother to a retired couple who can’t get over the loss of a child. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’ve done, all lives matter to God. I believe we have a responsibility to God to live our lives in a manner that He set forth for us. Does that make sense?

Absolutely. I think that, one, God gives you a lot of room and that for someone who is new, someone who has just discovered sort of what God is or spent their entire life hating God, or what they think God represents and all of a sudden they come to find God, so to speak, they’re given space. You don’t have to live up to what God wants you to live up to the second things change. He allows you to find your way, and that’s the miracle of you being you, and you being different in that some way, you don’t have to be perfect. Yes, we should all aspire to live up to the ideals that God has set before us.

You’ve been in film & television for a long time, so I appreciate your perspective on this.  Over the last several years we have seen the Christian movie industry grow rapidly.  We have seen great success from movies like Courageous, God’s Not Dead, andMom’s Night Out to name a few.  From your perspective, what needs to happen for Christian film to keep growing and making inroads in the movie industry? 

You’re right, it’s so interesting, because it’s grown so much that now it is its own genre, where before it didn’t have a genre. In fact, if you wanted to just watch Christian-based movies and shows, you could. You could almost fill every day of just that sort of content. From a filmmaking perspective it’s good, and the acting, all of that part of it technically is really good. The stories are great, and you can’t watch it without seeing someone you know or yourself in one of these varying roles of the different characters that sort of constantly are woven together.  As long as people support it, that’s the key.  The funny thing about the money that goes behind these films, it tells you what the support is and it tells you what the market is willing to show. It’s strictly supply and demand.  I think maybe it’s starting to get a little saturated, but I think for the audience it’s not a bad thing, because they have more content to choose from.

From your standpoint, what is your greatest hope for Do You Believe? as it makes its way to DVD?

If one person, just one watched the movie and it changed their life, if it brought one person closer to God, what more could I want?  I challenge anyone to watch the movie and walk away and say it wasn’t a good movie. Critics have been hard and the mainstream non-faith media have been critical.  They’re waiting for a film like this, so that person’s not going to like the movie. But as far as the filmmaking goes and as far as the actual technical skills and the people involved, I’m very proud of this film.

Do You Believe? is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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