Former Pro Wrestler Makes Feature Film Debut
THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE
Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton) is a former child mega star living the fast life on the fumes of his faded fame when his hard partying during a trip to Chicago lands him a sentence of 200 hours of community service. Looking for what he perceives to be the least physically taxing option, Gavin opts to serve the sentence at a local church in his suburban hometown near the Windy City; however, he hasn’t been welcome in years due to a falling out over money and career direction with his father (Neil Flynn).
Upon his arrival to the church, Gavin’s celebrity status goes unacknowledged by Pastor Allen Richardson (D.B. Sweeney) who only recognizes him by tying his name to that of the name on his rap sheet; Pastor Allen then assigns Gavin to the task of mopping floors, but this tedium all changes when Gavin notices the church has just started casting for its holiday play.
Hoping to make his 200 hours fly by even faster by doing what he does best – acting, Gavin decides to audition for the role of Jesus – which will not only require some improvisation of his “Christian faith,” but his knowledge of Jesus as a historical character as well. Although his cast members (including wrestling legend Shawn Michaels who stars as “Doug” – a once hard living biker whose life was dramatically changed by his faith in God) are awed by him and take to him immediately, the show’s director Kelly (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes), who also happens to be the pastor’s daughter, proves immune to Gavin’s charms. Reluctantly, she agrees to cast him as the lead at the insistence of her father and the belief that everyone deserves a second chance.
SHAWN AS “DOUG”
Former professional wrestler Shawn Michaels (Doug), a WWE Hall of Famer who was a legendary bad boy out of the ring himself before becoming a Christian in 2002, makes his feature film debut as the quiet and humble Doug, a biker who gave up hard living for a higher calling in The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. “Shawn’s playing a character who reflects a lot of himself,” director Dallas Jenkins says. “Becoming a Christian didn’t make him boring. He’s still the same cool guy; he just has a humility about him he didn’t have before.”
Michaels, known as The Heartbreak Kid during his wrestling days, did a fair bit of rule breaking when he wasn’t performing as one of sports entertainment’s top draws. That changed in the late ‘90s when he realized his lifestyle was hurting him and his family. “When I gave my life to Christ is was a natural development – it wasn’t something that I tried to do,” Michaels remembers. “The things that I do now are from the heart, and for me they come from my salvation. I’m fully aware and grasp that what is good within me comes from the good Lord above and not actually from within me.”
So, playing Doug, who has a similar story, if on a dissimilar stage, seemed the perfect role for his feature-film debut. But that’s not to say it was an easy transition from life in front of fans to life in front of the camera.
“Shawn was just as nervous and giddy about this as I was because he has no experience with it,” says Patrick Gonyell, who plays Anthony, one of Doug’s two best buddies. “It’s a departure for him, and it’s kind of fun for The Heartbreak Kid to be so down-to-earth and unsure and humble and self-deprecating about it all.”