LOS ANGELES — Debbie Hall was a Texas wife and mother who had a dream that gave birth to the best-selling book, Same Kind of Different as Me.
More important, Debbie's dream is the spark that began the friendship between the two men who wrote the book: her wealthy, art-dealing husband Ron Hall, and Denver Moore, the homeless man they met at a Texas shelter.
In a recent interview with CBN News, Ron shared his story of marriage and friendship. He began where the new film picks up its telling of two years of their story. He and Debbie were mending their marriage.
A Wife's Unconditional Forgiveness
Ron shared, "My wife showed me Christ-like forgiveness a few years before that for having an affair. She threw my sin as far as the east is from the west, never to bring it up again."
"Just like Christ forgives our sins, she erased it off the blackboard of her life and memory. And so I told her for that forgiveness, I would do anything she asked for the rest of our lives together."
"And she had asked me to do nothing except to be faithful and be back in the church and to serve and to tithe and all the kinds of things that we are supposed to be doing as believers."
"I was always waiting for the other shoe to fall, and one day she asked me to be friends with a crazy homeless man who threatened to kill everybody."
The 'Crazy Homeless Man' Who Changed Their Lives
That man was Denver Moore.
Ron, Debbie, and Denver's union is a miracle story and the focus of a major motion picture, starring Oscar winner Renée Zellweger. She plays the role of Debbie.
Describing Debbie to CBN News, Zellweger said, "In reading the book and talking to her husband, what I gather is she was a good person. Just inherently good. And she had faith. And she wanted to commit her life to making a difference in other people's live. And boy did she."
Click Player Below to see Studio 5 Interview with Ron Hall, Co-Author of 'Same Kind of Different as Me'
Debbie Hall: The Hero of the Story
Debbie was a regular volunteer at a Texas homeless shelter. And she often made Ron join her. Djimon Hounsou plays the role of Denver in the film, "Same Kind of Different as Me." He describes Debbie as the true hero in this story.
Hounsou said, "I think Debbie is the hero. Debbie brings us together. Debbie brings the human touch out of us. I mean for Ron, obviously."
Describing Denver, Hounsou offered, "When you look at where he came from, the challenges he was faced with in life. And despite all of that, the wisdom that comes through his outlook on life, the unconditional love that he has for humanity. That comes out after Ron Hall sort of breaks the ice and makes that connection."
"It's beautiful to see, and it's quite a tough character to portray."
Wisdom Born of Life's Unimaginable Challenges
Denver's wisdom comes from many real-life challenges. As Ron Hall shared in his interview with CBN News, most of Denver's life challenges were unimaginable.
Ron shared, "The short version is, he was crazy. He was an ex-con. He had been on the streets for 25 years. He did not read or write. He had never been to school a day in his life."
"And the most tragic thing, when he was just an innocent 16-year-old boy, back on a plantation in Louisiana, one day he was helping a white woman change a flat tire when all of a sudden three Klansmen came out of the woods on horseback and accused him of bothering a white lady."
"They put a noose around his neck and dragged him behind a horse and told him never again speak to a white person and never again to look a white woman in the eye. He was 62 years old on the day that I laid eyes on him. And he had kept that promise from the time he was 16," Ron said.
Ron Hall makes a cameo appearance in the film, but Greg Kinnear plays the role of Ron.
Kinnear shared what he felt was the most compelling piece of Ron's story and his transformation.
"I think just how much Debbie, his wife, and Denver, how much he learned from them – how much they changed him," Kinnear said.
"This is a guy who was very insulated. The kind of guy who is looking to seek forgiveness through writing a check for his wife's cause. All those touchstones of the human selfish behavior."
"He is the first to say he is a flawed person, but I can tell through this movie how deeply affected he was not only by her, but [by] his relationship with Denver and that passion for needing to get that story out."