FBC North Mobile Pastor Ed Litton shares about his role in ‘Courageous’ moviecomment (0)
December 22, 2011
By Grace Thornton
Ed Litton joked that in his next film role, he’s going to be the bad guy in a Western.
“I’ll wear an eye patch and get shot off of a horse,” he said.
For Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church, North Mobile, in Saraland, that opportunity coming true would be only slightly more surprising than being cast in “Courageous,” a film released in theaters nationwide Sept. 30.
Produced by Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Ga. — the same church that filmed “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants” — the movie is aimed at challenging men to be strong, faithful fathers.
“I didn’t have any intention of participating on screen, and I don’t think they had any intention of me participating that way either,” Litton said.
“I had spoken at a conference at Sherwood on the topic of fatherhood — my dissertation was on fatherlessness — and they asked me for some input several years ago when they were working on the concept of the film.”
Later they asked him for input on the movie’s intense grief scene, which takes place after a family tragedy. Litton knows about that, too — he lost his wife, Tammy, in a car accident in 2007.
“They asked me to look at the script and give them some input on the grief scene because of my experiences,” Litton said. “I told them I thought it was really well written. It’s powerful — almost overwhelming.”
They casually asked him to read it, and the next thing he knew, he’d been cast in the film.
“I play a pastor who gets introduced into the film through a tragedy and grief process,” Litton said. “I’m the pastor of the lead character, and I’m with him and his family as they go through the crisis.”
Stephen Kendrick, co-writer and producer of “Courageous,” said Litton was “a godsend” to the production. With his background, training and personal experiences, “Ed was almost overqualified” for the role, Kendrick said.
It’s a minor role, Litton said, but it’s more screen time than he ever thought he’d have.
“It was a blast. I told some of my friends that I could do this the rest of my life,” Litton said.
His undergraduate degree is in religious studies and theater, but this is the first time since college that he’s gotten to stretch his legs on the latter part of his coursework. Both of his sons are award-winning documentary filmmakers.
“I never imagined being able to get a part of a major production like this, especially with the Sherwood team,” Litton said. “They really pray about what they do. The people pray over it — it’s a church effort, these films.”
It was encouraging to watch the whole Sherwood congregation get behind the film, he said.
“It’s a great church with a great vision,” Litton said. “Sunday School classes baby-sit, bring food to the cast and spend a lot of time in prayer. They know that there will be intense attack during production and afterward.”
The spiritual attacks come because the films make a difference, he said.
“Lives are being touched by ‘Courageous,’” Litton said. “Men are being impacted. It is a real call at a time when people in our culture seem to be running from responsibility.”
He said he has been encouraged to write a book on fatherhood and fatherlessness but has always hesitated because most men wouldn’t purchase a book.
“But they will watch a film,” Litton said. “The genius of God is that a film like this can really connect with men and on a visceral level.”
And the film does not have an easy-to-work-out Christian plot, he said. “It doesn’t resolve at the end with a crusade. It’s gritty. It’s hard. It’s reality,” Litton said. “And it begins a conversation about issues that all of us face.”
He said the most exciting part has been seeing lives impacted by the message.
“The feedback from people I’ve talked to and from reviews has been very positive,” Litton said. “Hollywood really knows how to do sin on screen, but Sherwood does a good job of showing the gospel and the reality of grief and how we face it. I’m pleased to be a part of it.”
And being in the film has made his face more familiar.
“Every once in awhile, I’ll get stopped in an airport,” he said. “It’s resurrected some college friends and such who were shocked to see me on screen after years of being out of touch.”
“Courageous” will be available on DVD on Jan. 17. For more information, visit courageousthemovie.com.