How Conservative Artists Survive in a Progressive Hollywood

Few places in the world are able to bring together as many influential and famous progressives as Hollywood, the district of Los Angeles that has become synonymous with the American film industry. Amid the region’s large artistic community, there are few who dare to freely express opinions that will be labeled as conservative by the mainstream majority, primarily because of the career consequences of such a label. Among those willing to submit to probable martyrdom is actor Mark Wahlberg, star of several action films, such as ‘Transformers’, and nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for his role in ‘The Departed’.

A practicing Catholic, Wahlberg is used to showing his faith on social media, but he seems to have decided it was time to take a bolder step and has just posted Father Stu (“Fight for Faith: the story of Father Stu”, as planned for Brazil), the first film produced and starred by himself. The screenplay is an adaptation of the true story of Stuart Long, a violent ex-boxer, womanizer and agnostic who, after a serious accident, converts and changes his life, to the point of becoming a priest. In the United States, the film premiered on Good Friday and is set to hit Brazilian theaters on May 19.

Since learning about the redemption story of the Montana priest who captivated the local community and died in 2014, Wahlberg has harbored a desire to see her on screen, but the struggles she has faced to to make the project viable were huge, as often are those of most Christian-leaning screenplays that are pitched to major studios. It took six long years to hear negative responses from dozens of executives, including those who were sincere enough to point out that one of the problems with the idea was the word “priest” in the film’s title.

Tired of so many doors in front and stubborn enough to get the idea off the ground, Wahlberg appealed to the only way some artists and directors have found to break through the wall of resistance against the promotion of the Christian faith in major productions: pay and count on friends who share your convictions. Speaking to Entertainment Magazine InitiatedWahlberg did not specify the amounts, but revealed that he had invested “millions and millions” of his own money to produce the film, sharing the costs only with “a few friends who believed in the project”.

The names of the other investors have not been revealed, but among the friends who certainly played a significant role in the production is Mel Gibson, who in the story plays Father Stu’s father. This isn’t the first time the two Catholic actors have appeared on screen together and there are at least two more films set to star in the next few years, but in the case of Father Stu Gibson’s participation was more comprehensive. The director chosen to direct the feature was Rosalind Ross, Gibson’s girlfriend since 2014, with whom he has a son. This is his first film in the role.

The passion of Christ

It doesn’t stop there. According to Wahlberg himself, the motivation to use his personal finances to boost production came from the example set by Gibson, who took an incredible $30 million of his fortune to produce The Passion, released in 2004 alone. . impressed with the quality of the film and the risk he took to finance the work. I have always appreciated it. It’s his love letter to his faith in God and it inspired me to do this,” the actor told the Initiated.

Paying for it all himself wasn’t Gibson’s first choice either, but as he recounted when the film was released, the script dealing with the final 12 hours of Jesus Christ before his death didn’t seem appealing. for the cinema elite of the North. American, especially when it was revealed that the film would be spoken entirely in Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin, almost an insult to the producers who turned their noses up even at the need to include subtitles in specific scenes.

Gibson’s gamble couldn’t have paid off better. After its debut on Ash Wednesday 2004, The Passion of the Christ grossed $370 million in the United States and $611 million worldwide. To date, it is the highest-grossing self-financed film of all time.

Jim Caviezel, in September 2019, in one of the talks he started giving in churches after the success of The Passion of the Christ (photo: reproduction/YouTube).
Jim Caviezel, in September 2019, in one of the talks he started giving in churches after the success of The Passion of the Christ (photo: reproduction/YouTube).

The Passion of the Christ was also a game-changer for Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus. Before accepting the role, Caviezel’s participation in films such as Beyond the Red Line (1998) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) earned him the image of a rising Hollywood star, but everything changed with the gigantic impact of the biblical film. In 2011, seven years after the launch, he revealed in an interview with the British newspaper Daily mail that playing Jesus in that movie “ruined his career” and that Gibson himself had warned him that it might happen.

“He said to me, ‘You will never work in this city (Hollywood) again,’ and I replied that we must all kiss our crosses,’” Caviezel testified during a sermon to the faithful in a church in Florida. Jesus of the cinema, the opportunities that presented themselves to the actor came much more from the modest market of low-budget religious productions than from the blockbuster movie where he previously worked.

Despite the consequences on his professional life, when he speaks about it in public, Caviezel often says that he never regretted it and that he would do it again. In a way, this hypothesis can be realized. Although he is now 53 years old, in 2018 the actor confirmed that Mel Gibson had invited him to play the Son of God again in the film’s announced sequel, titled The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection. The problem is that the project seems to be running into even bigger hurdles than the original.

The sequel was announced by Gibson in 2016, had the protagonist confirmed in 2018 and in 2020 it got a screenwriter, Randall Wallace, the same one who wrote Braveheart. But to date, nothing has come off the paper and not a single scene has been filmed. There are those who even point out that the delay in the realization of the project would be linked to the story that we want to bring to the screens. The script would deal with the three days between the death and resurrection of Christ, a period during which, according to an ancient Christian tradition, Christ descended into hell to save the souls who awaited his coming. Such an eschatological and supernatural plot would be too much for financiers, even in the face of the historical profit that The Passion of the Christ is able to show.

Policy

It’s not just the Christian religion that’s suffering from Hollywood’s progressive squabbles. Donald Trump’s administration has created a new kind of target for cancellations and boycotts. In 2017, comedian Tim Allen, best known in Brazil for providing the original voice of Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story franchise, was caught off guard in a talk show when the presenter asked if he had been to then-President Trump’s inauguration party.

Although he was visibly embarrassed, Allen confirmed his presence and said: “You have to be very careful with that here. You get beat up if you don’t believe what everyone else believes. It’s like Germany in the 1930s, I don’t know what happened”.

That same year, veteran James Woods, who retired in 2013, Twitter used to expose the situation of actors who publicly showed some sympathy for Trump and his party: “The only reason I express my opinions is that I accepted the fact that I was on the blacklist “. In another demonstration, he declared: “While the liberals [nos EUA a palavra tem o sentido de ‘progressista’] screaming about the 1950s blacklist, my fellow actors who support Republicans are afraid of losing the ability to support their families.

Publicity image of Reagan, a film about the biography of the former president of the United States.
Publicity image of Reagan, a film about the biography of the former president of the United States.

Placing films that positively portray notoriously conservative politicians isn’t easy either. It explains how one of the most popular presidents in the history of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who was an actor and worked for years in Hollywood, took so long to get a biopic. Reagan, directed by Sean McNamara and starring Dennis Quaid, will debut in 2022. Prior to this production, the former president who led America in the era that marked the collapse of Soviet communism had only won documentaries or satire.

Reagan, which will be based on the book The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, by Paul Kengor, is yet another film for which the powerful progressives of Hollywood have done everything to bury it definitively or at least delay it. It was first announced in 2010 and only hits the big screen now, eleven years later, thanks to the investment of TriStar Global Entertainmenta company based in Canada.

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