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Actor Kirk Cameron hopes people see themselves in new movie ‘Fireproof’

EDITORS’ NOTE: This story is part of a series of Baptist Press stories about Fireproof, which hits theaters Sept. 26. To read how churches can get involved click here. To read an overview about the movie click here. To read reviews of the movie click here and here. Stories about movie volunteers are available here and here. Finally, a story about the director and producer is available here.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Actor Kirk Cameron calls divorce “the big elephant” in the room — the subject few want to address.

That may be the case, but his latest movie, “Fireproof,” tackles it head-on, focusing on the story of a young couple whose marriage is on the rocks and headed for divorce, and the story of how Cameron’s character — after a change of heart — tries to save it. The movie has been screened for Christian leaders all summer to enthusiastic responses and was met with standing ovations during screenings at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June.

Fireproof (rated PG for thematic material) is the latest release from Sherwood Pictures, the makers of the 2006 hit “Facing the Giants.” It will open in theaters Sept. 26.

“The divorce rate is so high, even in the church,” Cameron told Baptist Press. “It’s a byproduct of — across the board — Christianity being watered down to where it hardly resembles biblical Christianity anymore.”

But Cameron and those with Sherwood Pictures hope that Fireproof can change the hearts and minds of those considering divorce and strengthen the marriages of those who aren’t. Cameron plays the role of Caleb Holt, a firefighter captain whose failed relationship at home stands in stark contrast to his heroic actions at work. Holt’s wife Catherine is a public relations director at a hospital, where she is involved in a budding romantic relationship.

When together, the couple argue about housework, about finances, about his addiction to Internet pornography (which is called “trash” during their arguments and handled discreetly). At one point Caleb confides to a friend, “Catherine and I were in love when we got married. But today, we’re two very different people.”

It was filmed on a $500,000 budget, which was five times that of Facing the Giants. The bigger budget is apparent on-screen, particularly during firefighting scenes.

“I hope that people watch the movie and not only are they entertained and not only are they moved emotionally,” Cameron said, “but that they see themselves in the mirror as they watch the movie and they leave saying, ‘I need to have happen to me what happened to that guy. Lord, what do I need to do? I’m at the end of my rope and I need your help.’ … What I’m hoping will happen is that we’ll see marriages really transformed and changed.”

Christian groups such as the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Focus on the Family and FamilyLife are promoting the film and urging their constituents to see it. B&H Publishing Group, the publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, is releasing the “The Love Dare” book, the same book featured in the movie and a key to the plot. The book is aimed at strengthening relationships of couples.

Cameron — known for playing the scrawny teenager Mike Seaver in the comedy “Growing Pains” — gained 15 pounds to play his role in Fireproof. His brother-in-law, former National Hockey League player Valeri Bure, gave him some tips.

“I’m kind of a thin guy naturally. I called up my brother-in-law and I said, Hey, I need you to ‘pump me up,'” Cameron said, doing his best impersonation of the “Saturday Night Live” bodybuilders Hans and Franz. “He said, ‘OK, I can do it.’ And so I was downing protein shakes and Creatine and working out in the gym like a crazy man, and within a month put on about 15 pounds. I knew that it was something that ought to be [in order for him to play the role of a firefighter]. You know, we guys don’t want to be skinny little geeks, anyway.”

So, has he kept on that muscle mass?

“It’s shifted from the shoulders to the waist a little bit, so I need to get back to the gym,” he said, laughing.

Cameron’s involvement in the film came through a providential encounter. Around the time Facing the Giants was released, he was at an airport and bumped into some pastors from Sherwood Baptist Church (in Albany, Ga.), which owns Sherwood Pictures. They gave him a copy of the movie, and he liked it so much he called Alex Kendrick, the director of Facing the Giants, to tell him about his interest in any future movies. More than a year later, Kendrick called Cameron to see if he was interested in auditioning for the lead role in Fireproof, which — like Facing the Giants and an earlier Sherwood film “Flywheel” — had an all-volunteer case. Instead of paying Cameron for his role, Sherwood Pictures made a donation to Camp Firefly, a ministry he and his wife run.

“I loved the fact that it was an all-volunteer cast and crew and I loved just the motive and the heart behind Facing the Giants,” Cameron said. “And my wife and I thought, ‘Wow, this is Christian ministry, this is really using the media to do something great, so we just wanted to be part of it.’ Marriages are struggling. It was a great script. I knew it was going to be a great movie, and we just wanted to be involved.”

Like any other movie, the opening weekend for Fireproof is the key to its possible success. If it has a strong first weekend — as Facing the Giants did — then it will stay in theaters longer and even spread to other cities. Facing the Giants was successful in large measure because of the involvement of churches.

“Unfortunately, we live in a society with movies where it’s market-driven and box-office driven,” said Michael Catt, executive producer of the film and senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist. “Sept. 26 is huge. That opening weekend determines how it spreads. We had a great opening weekend with Facing the Giants, and so it spread to other cities. We started in 400 theaters and ended up in over 1,000, and a lot of that was based on what happened the first weekend, because it let people know this is a legitimate film. The key to that was churches, the key to that was pastors standing up in their pulpits and saying, ‘We gripe about Hollywood. Here’s something positive. It’s a film we can go to and support.'”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about “Fireproof,” visit FireproofTheMovie.com. For resources, visit FireproofMyMarriage.com.

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  • Michael Foust