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Christian Living

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It's Christmas in July for Kevin Sorbo

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

Hollywood veteran Kevin Sorbo has seen a lot during his 30 plus years as an actor. From playing the muscular hero in the 1990s hit TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys to his recentturn as an atheist professor in God’s Not Dead, the Minnesota native is pleased to see a slow but promising rise in faith-based films.

In his latest role, Sorbo plays Joseph, the father of Jesus in Joseph & Mary, a moving drama from director and Oscar winner Roger Christian (StarWars). Currently available on DVD and streaming video, Joseph & Mary explores a powerful message of mercy and forgiveness through the biblical parents of Jesus.

I recently sat down with Sorbo to discuss the importance of re-telling a biblical story in a manner that “gets it right”, the future of Christian cinema, and what he learned about himself by playing the earthly father of Christ.

Joseph & Mary is a film that depicts Joseph & Mary as young parents to Jesus. You play the role of Joseph in this movie. In your words, please give me a thumbnail of this movie?

A lot of people know about Mary. People know about Jesus of course. But very little is known about Joseph. When people ask me about this movie I tell them that I play Joseph. He is the step-dad to a kid named Jesus. The movie deals with the birth of Jesus and also Joseph finding out that Mary is pregnant. She is pregnant with the Son of God. How do you react to that? He was obviously a very religious man. There is nothing written on this so you sort of have to take liberties in figuring out how he feels and reacted. But obviously, he didn’t leave. He was not only a man of faith but also a man of virtue and compassion. I believe that I tried to play it that he was a man who was completely in awe. He was chosen with this task so to speak to be able to raise the Son of God. And I think he was more than humbled by that opportunity. The movie also deals with King Herod who heard the news that this Son of God was born and was going to be the king of the Jews. He panicked and wanted every kid killed that was under two years of age. So, they had to run and hide. This movie deals with the drama of that up until Joseph’s death that happened when Jesus was 12 years old. I hope it’s a movie that people will latch onto and find it inspiring as well.

As I have mentioned, you play Joseph, the father of Jesus. What drew you to want to take this part?

Because I did it in fifth grade when I was in church so I figured I should do it again. I blew it the first time around. (Laughs) The scene that really hit me the most and sort of brought me back to that time was when I was a fifth grader in my church play was the birth scene of Jesus in the stable with animals all around. When I walked on the set to shoot this scene I just got goose bumps. It was just so cool to be there and to try to re-create what we think it may have been like. As you know, I love doing faith-based movies. I go all the way back to Hercules. It wasn’t faith-based but all the episodes had strong morals. That was sort of the backbone of what I grew up with in Minnesota. I like playing these parts that convey a good message.

This movie follows Elijah, a rabbi during the time of King Herod. Eventually, Elijah meets Joseph & Mary. This movie is a work of historic fiction. How important was it for you in your role as well as the director to “get it right” so to speak?

Yes, I think it was important. When you see movies like Exodus and Noah and you see what Hollywood did to those movies when they hire atheists to act or to take the helm … I don’t get it. Why are you going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and have an atheist direct it? This is a Biblical story. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. And those movies reflect this at the box office as to what people thought of them. Why not try to do what we can take out of the Bible? Why not take what you think this person must have gone through as a Godly man and a Godly person to make it the best possible movie? Doing so will send the best possible message out to the people. I used to get stopped at airports or the mall all the time by people who told me they loved Hercules or Andromeda. Fifty percent of the time when I get stopped now it’s because of God’s Not Dead and other faith-based movies. People are saying please make more of these. We have a public out there starving for good quality movies that tell good quality stories because they want to see them and they want their kids to see them as well. We hope we are putting out movies that teach people some good moral values and strengthen their moral base. But we also want to tell them a good story that they can enjoy.

Christian film seems to be growing by leaps and bounds the last few years. You are certainly a Hollywood veteran. From your perspective what needs to happen for Christian film to keep making inroads in the movie industry?

The key is the public. If people want more movies like this … number one, it’s our job in the entertainment business to make movies that are good. We need to keep making God’s Not Dead, War Room, Mom’s Night Out, film’s that have an outstanding Godly take. They need to be supported though. If people stop going to these movies then they will stop being made. That’s because it is show business after all. I think Hollywood is waking up a little too. Mark Burnett keeps pushing the envelope in putting stuff out there that is very fascinating but very realistic too. Burnett’s The Bible project wasn’t all Noah’s Ark with a rainbow over the top of it with happy, cartoon animals. Through these movies, we are hoping to shine that light on the world right now and change people’s perspective. We are living in a country (America) that is turning very secular, very atheist, very agnostic, and it is happening through our public education system. That is one of our biggest problems, I think. We need to combat that.

The overall theme of this movie is a powerful message of mercy and forgiveness. Why is it so important to convey this message in this film at this time?

I think that more than anything we probably need this message. Look at what we’ve got going on in the world right now with the anger and the hatred. A friend of mine put it best when he talked about the Internet. He said, ‘Do you know what the Internet is? The Internet is the Wild West right now.’ It’s the stuff that can pop up and the people – they sit in the darkness of their apartments or homes and they just attack people. People are so angry and not happy with themselves. The TMZ guys at the airport accosted me just two days ago. Right away, they are telling me that Christians are just as evil. I looked at the guy and said, ‘Ok, how do you explain that? What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Well, look at Sandy Hook. Look at the guy who shot people in the movie theater in Colorado.’ I said, ok, you will need to give me the transcript because I didn’t hear any of these people saying they were doing it for the glory of God. This guy was saying they had to be Christians. It’s just amazing to me.

Through this role, what did you learn about yourself? Did God teach you anything through this experience?

I think He did. He showed me through the actor’s world what Joseph was feeling. He showed me what he may have been going through. I never really thought about it before. I’ve thought about it but certainly not the way you do when you are on a movie set and you’re filming every day for a month. There were moments where it just sort of hit me that this is really interesting. This is really amazing that they are doing this story and that they have asked me to play this part.

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