GARNER, N.C. (BP) — When Rusty Martin Jr. was born, his parents, Rusty Sr. and Kim, were awestruck by the miracle God had given them.
Since doctors had told them having a child was unlikely they said they have treasured their son during his 16 years on earth.
“We’ve just been very blessed to raise him,” Rusty Sr. said.
Junior’s big screen debut came last weekend when “Courageous,” the latest offering from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., opened in more than 1,100 theaters across America.
The film highlights the importance of fathers, and shows how five men, four of whom work together on the police force, struggle to become better fathers.
Junior plays Dylan Mitchell, the son of Adam Mitchell, played by Alex Kendrick, who also helped write the script. The role was a stretch for Junior, who calls his father his best friend.
Rusty Sr. also has a part in the film. He plays a businessman who challenges one of the characters with a moral dilemma.
The Martins are members of Turner Memorial Baptist Church in Garner, N.C. Junior is a sophomore at Wake Christian Academy in Raleigh, and his father owns a precious metals business. Kim is a hearing instruments specialist. The parents have flexible work schedules to coordinate with Rusty Jr.’s filming schedule. In the midst of juggling a budding acting career, Rusty Jr. tries to stay active in his church’s youth group. “I call acting a passion,” Rusty Jr. said.
He’s not sure about college yet but is considering the Air Force Academy in Colorado. He’s waiting to see what God’s will is for his life.
When Rusty Jr. was in third grade, no one had tried out for the main role for the school play, so he auditioned.
That was just the beginning. It wasn’t long before he’d found a talent agency and was filming his first commercial.
He was 14 when he was cast in “Courageous.” They sent audition tapes in and also auditioned via the Internet.
Both actors said they want people to be changed by “Courageous.”
While Rusty Jr. said his relationship was “rock solid” with his dad before the movie, he said the film’s subject challenged him to be a better son. Rusty Sr. echoed the sentiment about being a better father.
“I get emotional every time I see it,” Rusty Sr. said. “It just really tugs at the heart. It makes you want to stand tall and makes you want to do better as a father.”
Father and son would love to work together again, and Rusty Sr. said he would love to play father-son on screen.
In the meantime, Rusty Sr. might be seen in a new production called “Snitched,” developed by Cross Shadow Productions. Father and son also recently worked on Destiny Road, a film for Brazil but filmed in North Carolina.
Both Rusty Jr. and Sr. said the picture has raised the bar for Christian films.
“This is a film that Christians can be proud of,” Rusty Sr. said. “A guy who goes to see it on Friday night, on Sunday afternoon he can grab his neighbor and take that guy to the theater and be proud of this product.”
Dianna L. Cagle is assistant managing editor of the Biblical Recorder, the newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, online at BiblicalRecorder.org.