Jesus Revolution: Joel Courtney, Jonathan Roumie & Anna Grace Barlow
TIME Magazine dubbed a JESUS REVOLUTION that swept America in 1970… Joel Courtney (Super 8, The Kissing Booth), Jonathan Roumie (The Chosen) and Anna Grace Barlow star in the Lionsgate film and we sat down with the trio to talk seeking truth, what’s in a name and “crying is my party trick.”
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: I loved getting to see the film. It’s so great to chat with you guys. And Joel, maybe we’ll start with you. One of the things that I really enjoyed about the film was this idea that Greg wasn’t out to seek fame, but rather he wanted his name to mean something. And I think that that’s something a lot of people can resonate with. Maybe they want the fame too. But talk to me a little bit about the importance of having your name means something.
Joel Courtney: Well, a name is an important thing. It was the original job, was to tend the garden and to name… And Adam. So your identity and the name are so closely related that they’re kind of almost inseparable. And having your name mean something broadly, or to one person… In the van, when you say your name already means something to me. That’s what he’s been desiring, is community, companionship, friendship, love, family, and having your name means something different from fame. There’s so much value in it, and it means that you are loved and someone knows your name. It’s almost like they know you in a deeper way than like, “Oh, hey, your name’s John.”
RM: A more purposeful identity. That’s good. And Jonathan, one of the things that I thought was interesting with Lonnie’s character, is that he talks about there’s all these sheep out there and there’s not a shepherd for them. And if they get rejected, how can they even grow or learn without the opportunity to even know truth? Maybe unpack that a little bit for us.
Jonathan Roumie: Yeah. I mean, Lonnie was coming from a place where his entire generation was seen by the generation before him as almost anathema. Like they’re untouchable. They’re these dirty hippies and just drug riddled. And that there was no way to save them at all. And Lonnie knew otherwise, and Lonnie needed to communicate that to people. And he just happened to get the opportunity to communicate that to a pastor whose church was dying essentially.
And of that generation, of the older generation, that didn’t recognize the value in ministering to these kids, many of whom were runaways and teenagers, and so him having that opportunity to encounter with Chuck and to really dig a hole into Chuck’s heart about what it meant to see those that… Just like Christ did. Those that are estranged or on the fringes of society, just as much being loved, just as much by God as anybody else, that was huge for Chuck. And as a result, things changed and this church became essentially a megachurch, eventually, with the tent and everything as you see in the film. So yeah, I think I would say it would be divine design that the two of them met and helped become the catalysts for this movement throughout the country.
RM: Anna Grace, one of the things that I think is so relatable about your character, is this idea that sometimes kids can be misunderstood. She loves her parents, that’s clear, but there’s obviously this disconnect there on how they’re connecting. Maybe talk a little bit about that.
Anna Grace Barlow: Yeah, I talked to Cathe a lot before we started filming and there’s actually some scenes that didn’t make it into the movie that are on some deleted scene reel somewhere that’ll play at some point. But her relationship with her parents was complicated. She want, like most kids that age, you feel like an adult already. You want to be trusted, you want to be validated in your decisions. And she knew what she wanted. That was always her personality. And I think it was really cool to play that, really well written, that she was going to fight for what she wanted. She was that headstrong. And like everybody, of course I’ve disagreed with my parents before, and I have younger sisters who I watched go through the same thing, where it’s like when you’re a teenager, it’s really hard and then you realize that your parents were like… Usually should be your first sounding board. They’re the people you can really count on.
RM: One of the things I thought was really interesting, Joel, with Greg, was that he was trying to seek the truth. And at times, Chuck was his biggest advocate, handing him keys to a church, allowing him the opportunity to speak. But other times was more of a faulty step for him too. Maybe talk to me a little bit about the importance of having somebody believe in you and maybe when you’ve seen that in your own life.
JC: I think it’s the human condition. Chuck was kind of this father figure to Greg. And so it was, I think, kind of beautifully executed in the film, in that the writing was the searching for family. And he kind of found this father in Chuck, that he could look up to, glean wisdom from, be guided, learn from, be prayed over, which is father’s role. And then having Chuck fail him, to hurt him, similarly to how he perceived his dad leaving them, although his mom left his father. So that relationship of the father and the son, is just beautifully written by John and John. And I just loved working with Kelsey. It’s so nuanced. He’s so good. It’s just mind-boggling. Such an honor to work with him.
RM: Jonathan, I understand you stay in character the whole time, even when they may call to break, so to speak. For you, how does that inform your choices in character? Why choose that route?
JR: I love how the myth is just kind of expanding as I-
AGB: I’m also sorry that we didn’t make that easy, if that’s what you were trying to do. Sorry.
JR: The meaning to talk to you about that. No, I mean, I try to stay in, at the very least for as long as we’re on set. For me it’s born out of weakness. I’m easily distracted. I can’t do the things that some of these guys can do here. Where you can be like, “Hey, what happened last night?” Okay and action. “So here’s this…” I’m like, “What does she do…” And I’ve told this story a couple of times and I can’t remember what’s true and what isn’t. So maybe for the record, do you own a shirt that says crying is my party trick?
AGB: Yes. Brent made it for me while we were doing the movie. Anyways. And back to your amazing process that totally paid off. Go, go, go.
JR: See, that’s a gift. I’m not that gifted. So I have to stay in character as much as I can, stay in voice as much as I can. And especially when there’s scenes that are heavy or emotional or weighty in some way, I tend to just isolate myself a lot because… I’d rather be hanging out with friends and getting to know people, but then the performance would be all over the place and everything would suffer. So that’s just how I have to work in order to be able to do the job.
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