Interview with Dean Cain
The actor talks to about his latest film, fatherhood, his penchant for good deeds, and what it's like to be Superman.Actor Dean Cain stopped by the offices of Beliefnet recently to talk with us about his film, The Way Home, which debuted on DVD from Lionsgate recently.
Based on the inspirational true story, the film follows the frantic search by an entire community when a two-year-old boy suddenly goes missing. Cain, who we all know from TV’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, plays the lead character, Randy Simpkins. Just watching the movie we were in a puddle of tears. It is a very gripping film.
Randy Simpkins is in the film --- and was in real life -- a husband and father torn between the demands of his job and commitment to his family. Hi wife, Christal, asks him to watch their two-year-old son Joe for a few minutes as they were packing up for a family vacation. Randy gets distracted by work--and Joe disappears.
Racked by guilt and fear, Randy joins Christal in a desperate search for their missing son. Ultimately, hundreds of others from their church and community join in. It is a powerful story that shows a spiritual journey back to love, faith and family life. See a trailer at http://www.thewayhome-movie.com/.
Laurie Sue Brockway: That movie was really just extraordinary from not only the faith angle but the family angle. Did you actually meet with the real Randy?
Dean Cain: Not only did I meet with the real Randy but we shot the film at their residence. That’s the house that it took place in. All of the places we searched were exactly where they were searching. The place where I broke down was very near the place where he broke down. Everything we did was the real deal. Inside the film itself, all of the real people are in it but they don’t play themselves. Actors were playing the roles but the real guys came in when we were searching. It was just great.
I thought those people looked like real people.
Yeah, they were the real deal. It really was a family affair. Randy was one of the executive producers. Like I said, we shot at their house. All of the kids were walking around, living their lives, going through their daily tasks with us all there. It’s a big time place, 80 acres, but we were just all over it for six weeks. And while we were shooting scenes, Randy was behind the camera watching and Randy would be crying through half the scenes because he said it brought him back there.
Everything gets triggered again.
When he sits there and watches the movie, he’ll cry. Poor guy! But we found Joseph. Joseph was found.
I know you have a ten year old. Did you have to draw from your own fear, as if it was your kid?
Of course. As an actor, you substitute things in there. That once happened to me when he disappeared for a second--you know when you’re in a park, you fix your sandwich, you look up and you don’t see him. And you freeze. Your blood pressure drops and you’re finished. You see him again and you go okay, everything’s just fine. Or you have that dream at night.These guys had to live it! Just heart wrenching. Then Randy, as a result, really changed his life. He very much changed his life and became much more family oriented. He put family first and set his priorities straight and he became a county commissioner. Everything he has just been a super involved father and loves his kids to death.
It was very prayerful and showed the community coming together, praying. How did you feel about the religious part of it?
That was written in the script, the narration at the beginning was talking about how involved God is in daily life. Some people believe God is involved in every little decision we make. Some people believe you’re given the free will to make the decisions. Sometimes people believe God is not involved at all. Doesn’t matter where you stand on that issue, there is a whole community who, on this day, believe God had something to do with it. And that’s the way it goes in the story. I am not terribly religious but I have faith. I don’t really go down one path. I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist, or a Catholic or a Christian or a Muslim, or Jewish. I couldn’t put myself into any organized faith. But when I was flying over Iraq in 2005 being shot at while visiting our soldiers, you better believe I was praying to God. When my son gets sick, I’ll have my own personal conversations with God, For me it is a very personal sort of relationship in that sense. I just live and let live and live my life pretty much according to the Golden Rule. And it turns out well for me.
You are a great advocate for the well-being of children.
I do a lot of work with Feed the Children and I travel the world with them. I’ve been to Kenya, I’ve been to Vietnam. I was just in Nicaragua with them and I’m going to do more. I do this all the time to help the children who need it. When there, I’m physically helping them. I’m in there with them in these horrific conditions. When you see that, and then you start to realize the political aspects of what makes some of this stuff happen, it really makes you mad because you know there are resources enough to help these people but they are not getting them.
It’s wonderful that you do that work. It must be transformational for you.
Completely. And I constantly share that with my son. If I’m going to take a trip like that, we’ll pack some of his things and I’ll take those with me and give them to kids out there. It’s pretty amazing.
The Dad in “The Way Home” was too focused on work. Do you ever feel like that?
It requires a balance to work and still be there for him. But I have no nanny. There is no help for me and I have him half the time. I coach his football team, I coach his basketball team. I do homework with him. I drive him to school. I pick him up. I cook him his breakfast, his lunch, his dinner. I’m there with him all the time so my priorities are very straight forward. It’s just a balance between work and travel. And I have to balance it all times. He comes with me on some of the shoots. I grew up the son of a director and grew up on sets myself, so I was the kid getting dragged around from this set to that set and I loved it. There’s something about it which is really interesting.
Do you believe in the kind of grassroots effect we saw in the movie, where someone called the chaplain and suddenly prayer circles were put together and people just started showing up to offer assistance?
That’s community. I found that amazing and it’s the same thing that happened in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George Bailey was down and it’s over and he wanted to kill himself--he’d had it . Then he goes back home and realizes it’s a wonderful life that he has. There were all those people are there to help him. It was a different time then now but it’s the same feeling.
People just start coming out of the woodwork. Have you ever had an experience like that in your life when people just gathered around you?
Small bits and pieces of that but nothing major and I hope I don’t have to deal with that. But the thing about being a parent that I was never prepared for is how vulnerable you now become because of your child. I had no idea I’d feel so vulnerable. You can’t understand that until you have this person you care about more than you care about yourself. My son had a big collision in a football game the other day. He was playing flag football and he wears glasses. He got kicked in the face. Before I knew it I was already over the pile. I was picking people off to get to him and make sure he was okay. I felt like my blood pressure dropped and there was this out of body experience. It was the weirdest thing. When I found that he was okay, I was ready to start crying. I thought “Jeez…I can’t take this.”
They’re still our babies. What are the things you want to impart most to your son?
I think the way I live my life makes it very clear to him. I don’t think I’ve actually had to say anything to him. At the age of 10 I know I’ve created the man I want to create. I know just watching him move around and the way he reacts to his fellow students, with people who are sick, he is such a sweet, caring boy. Sometimes he has his moments of good confidence and sometimes he has his moments of extreme insecurity, like all of us. I just created a kind boy who I think has the same morals and values that I have and is just a sweetheart of a kid. I think whatever I have to impart I have already. If I were to go tomorrow, I think the things that I’ve taught him and the gazillion times that I’ve told him I loved him and told him what I think is important will remain. He understands the power, the strength of my love for my family and I think that’s in him completely. It is a part of him and I think that’s great. He understands that bit of charity and helping those who need is important. He gets that clear as day.
Sounds like the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
DC: I’d like to think so. Every time I get a comment home from the teacher she says “He’s such a joy to have in my class. All his friends love him. He’s just the greatest kid.” He’s quiet, he’s shy, but he’s just so incredibly funny. I could gush for hours. I really could.
I know you get a million Superman questions and don’t hate me for this…
I don’t at all. I loved playing that role.
You sound like such a great guy, that you really are a do-gooder. Do you feel you brought that into that role or you were inspired by that role?
Well, that’s inherent in the role. And the thing that was so interesting about playing Clark Kent, you know the most powerful human being on earth, is that he was raised with true standard American values--small town American values. He fought for truth, justice and the American way which is freedom and liberty and it’s really amazing when you look back at that. It’s the same things I hold dear and always have. By no means am I as moral as Clark Kent, by no means at all. I made a lot of mistakes and done a lot of things that are in no way, shape or form Superman or Clark Kentesque. But generally, I live my life that way and try to. I think all of that stuff was inherently in the role, and I was able to play it--and maybe just add a little bit of mischief here and there, but with a smile. I pretty much stuck with what was put on the page. They wrote a scene specifically for us for the auditions and when I saw that scene I was like got it! Found it! I see what they’re doing. I was just comfortable. I remember that feeling. I said I feel totally confident going in on this now. That’s when it really spoke to me who it was as a character. I got this guy. I was fun.
Last question: What inspires you?
Gosh, it’s an easier question to ask what doesn’t inspire me. So much does inspire me. When you go out and visit these kids in Nicaragua or Kenya and you see the squalor that they live in yet see the brightness in their eyes and the hope that they still have, that is inspiring. It’s truly inspiring. This guy Santiago that I was just with in Nicaragua has virtually nothing but he’s better off than the kids I saw in Kenya and he wants to be a pilot. There’s that hope and that fire in his eyes and the excitement. You can see it. That’s inspiring. The human spirit and what it can go through…that’s pretty inspiring.
Laurie Sue Brockway is the Inspiration Editor of Beliefnet.