Kevin & Sam Sorbo: Overcoming, Resources for Families and Miracle in East Texas
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: You both produced and star in this film that’s inspired by true events, and Kevin, you also direct too. So maybe share a little bit about how Miracle in East Texas came to fruition.
Kevin Sorbo: Well, we got a wonderful friend named Dan Gordon. He’s an amazing writer. He’s Oscar-nominated. He wrote The Hurricane for Denzel Washington, Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner, and he brought me the script. Sam had met him before me in a movie that she wrote called Let There Be Light, and Dan did a rewrite and we became instant friends. I directed Let There Be Light as well. It’s another movie I recommend to people. Please go see that one.
But it’s a great script. It’s a wonderful script, a wonderful story. It’s a true story set in 1930, and it’s about two conmen played by myself and the wonderful John Ratzenberger. And they would go through Oklahoma and Texas, wooing widows out of their money and fake oil wells, and they would sell 500% of the shares. These guys were flimflam guys all the way through. You wouldn’t get away with that today, but this is 1930. People were incredibly poor because of the Depression. Well, this oil strike is massive, the largest ever, ever found at that time. And of course they get arrested because you can’t have 500% of anything.
It’s won, what, 10 film festivals. Won everything from best romantic comedy, family movie, best judge’s favorite, audience favorite. It’s just a wonderful PG rated movie that the whole family can go to. So if they go to sorbostudios.com, they can sign up right now and buy tickets now, because it’s a Fathom event. The way Fathom operates, really only get two days, but we’re on 750 screens. But if we sell these theaters out right now, it’ll stay in theaters longer.
RM: I love the tagline of every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Sam, unpack some of those themes that are able to kind of really resonate and hit home with us.
Sam Sorbo: My favorite theme of this script is the theme of forgiveness. What I love about this movie is it cloaks it so nicely that you don’t suspect it. We’ve had atheists who’ve seen the film and say, “Why do some people think this is a faith-based movie? It didn’t seem that way to me.” So we really managed to thread the needle that way.
And yeah, I want to promote forgiveness in a cancel culture, which is really a culture of unforgiveness. That’s a value that I think is a traditional American value that I’d really love to see a resurgence of in the culture today. So I’m hoping that this film has that resonance with people. And to make it as a comedy was just a real blessing. It was a lot of fun to shoot. Ratzenberger is a… Can I say he’s a hoot?
KS: Yeah, that’s fine.
SS: He’s hilarious. Louis Gossett Jr. was just a treasure, just so wonderful to work with, and we just had a blast.
RM: As you mentioned, Sorbo Studios… share a little bit about the mission there and what you’re accomplishing through media.
KS: Really, I got booted out of Hollywood for being a Christian and being conservative. Apparently, that’s kryptonite to Tinseltown. I love the industry. They’re the ones that scream for tolerance. But as you know, just like a government, hypocrisy just screams out of their mouths every time they talk. And I went, “Okay, all right, fine, but I’m going to form sorbostudios.com and I’m going to do movies I want to do.” Not all of them under the banner of Sorbo Studios I’ve been doing, because I’m getting a lot of other independent companies calling me up as well, wanting me to be in their film.
So I’ve been very fortunate to keep on working and keep busy. I’ve got four of the movies in post-production right now. Hopefully they’ll be out sometime next year. But this is the one that I’m very proud of this movie. It’s a wonderful, wonderful film.
To me, these are the random movies we want to keep making. We like true stories and I think audiences out there love true stories as well, especially something like this that has a positive inning instead of all the negativity we have in the world.
And like I said, I hope people come and endorse this movie, because I get it all the time from people saying, “Keep making the movies you’re making.” But you know what? Hollywood’s winning that battle. They’ve got the money to promote these things. We don’t have a $100 million advertising budget on a $3 million movie. The math wouldn’t work out right that way. So we’re just trying to constantly do movies that will touch people, make them think, make them laugh, make them cry, make them relate to the characters they’re watching on the screen, pretty much the same way I want to be an actor.
SS: And leave the theater a better person. So hopefully we will have done that with this film. And we’re hoping that families can come and watch the film. In fact we’ve created resources for discussion groups. If you want to discuss some of the true aspects of the film, some of the themes that are evident in the film, we actually have a sermon notes guide for pastors, if they want, and there’s also a homeschool packet for families that have kids who want to discuss some of the themes that are in the movie. There’s a discussion guide for families for homeschooling. I’m excited about that part.
RM: At the heart, you guys are both storytellers and you do that in multiple mediums, including books. Both of you are authors. Kevin, I see something on the top shelf behind you there.
KS: Yes, it is. Let me grab it.
RM: Yes, please do. This is your newest, correct?
KS: They hear me talking all the time. I say, “We need to wake up the lines in the country. The sheep are going to be the sheep.” And I said, “We’ve got to live in a country that people aren’t afraid to speak up, not live in fear.”
So Brave Books, which is wonderful books for the four-year-old to 12-year-old age frame, said, “We want to do a [book] dealing with the topic of masculinity,” because I’m all for embracing masculinity. I don’t know what we’re doing to the country right now. Well, it’s crazy what we’re doing right now. I want boys to be boys. Let them grow up. Girls be girls. Let them grow up. Let them decide what they want to be in their lives when they become adults and smart enough and mature enough to make decisions in their life that are going to affect them the rest of their lives.
So to me, this is all about fighting through the fear factor. It’s a wonderful story about a little lion cub named Lucas. He goes out to the woods with his two sisters, his younger kids. The youngest one gets cut by a plant that’s poisonous and she’s going to die very soon. The only way to save her life is this one special flower that grows way up on top of the mountain. He knows that. He knows he doesn’t have time to go all the way back home to get his father to help him out. He’s got a line the things his dad taught him about not being afraid of challenges in life and not being afraid of the roadblocks that life comes at us, because God never promised us an easy life. This book really shows him fight through that to find his own courage to save his little sister’s life. It’s a wonderful movie. It’s a wonderful book, but we should make it a movie.
RM: We should. I love that. I love that. And, I mean, what better author coming from than somebody who knows a little bit about fortitude and overcoming in their life different aspects that you didn’t see coming, going from Hercules and your story’s fantastic and learning to have to walk again. I mean, so inspiring. So inspiring.
KS: Yeah, I suffered a series of strokes in season five on Hercules. I had an aneurysm I didn’t know about that opened up and sent a few blood clots into my brain. It took me four months to learn how to really walk and balance again as much as I could. I still have balance issues, but it took me three years to really fully recover and feel what do you call normal again. I still have issues that I’m well aware of, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell. But I think God had a different plan for me, and that plan is a road to do movies that we’re doing now.
I mean, my book, True Strength, we did a follow-up together called True Faith. I do about 15 speaking events a year. Would never be doing over the last 10 years, but it’s been an amazing road trip for me.
And Sam with her homeschool advocacy and the books that she’s written and Words for Warriors to really get out there and speak your mind and not be afraid to use words to battle the craziness of it all. It’s somewhere back there. But it’s interesting where we both are. I think 20 years ago, both of us never thought this would be the road…
SS: Yeah, I would never have thought this.