Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media:

Stephen Baldwin stars in the one-man show Heaven, How I Got Here: A Night with the Thief on the Cross currently available on Digital HD at ChristianCinema.com.
Unlocking the Bible and Lightbeam Media, a contemporary Christian content provider founded by Baldwin and MyPillow mastermind Mike Lindell,  have partnered to produce the one-hour film Heaven, How I Got Here: A Night with the Thief on the Cross, based on a by Pastor Colin Smith. The narrative features the born-again Baldwin (The Usual Suspects, The Flintstones) offering an emotional posthumous first-person account of a man who wrestled with deep despair and shame while hanging on a cross alongside Jesus. Based on the story of the Crucifixion found in Luke 23, the play imagines the details of the backstory of the thief, a man who hardly seemed a candidate for sainthood but to whom Jesus promised an eternity with him in paradise.

Baldwin also portrays multiple other characters in the production which he initially performed to sold-out crowds of over 5,000 people as a one-man play in 2015 at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Some critics acclaimed that Baldwin delivers  “the performance of his career” as the Thief.

 

5 Questions for Stephen Baldwin

JWK: How did you become involved with a stage adaptation of the book Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross?

STEPHEN BALDWIN: I had been working on a radio show a couple of years back. Through the radio program, the radio ministry of the gentleman who wrote the book, Pastor Colin Smith, reached out to me just to see if Id’ be interested in recording an audio book for Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross. So, as I started talking with them, then came the idea of, well, maybe this could turn in to a larger opportunity .

(They asked) “Would you consider doing this as a one-man show or a staged show?”  I said “Well, no, I really have no interest in doing that, whatsoever.” You know, doing a one-man show live in front of an audience is challenging (and a big commitment). But when I started thinking abut it, started talking about it and, most importantly, started praying about it, I felt God say to me “I want you to do this.” I quite honestly said “I don’t think I want to do this, Lord.”

…For me, at the time I was developing some film projects and was really more interested in doing the movie things and creating some Christian films. So, not Easter last year but Easter the year before, I did the one performance of the live show and as I’m doing the show I’m going “Boy, we should be filming this!” It was just kind of one progression led to the next progression, led to the next, led to the next.

Then last Easter, my new company Lightbeam Media was able to (partner) with that radio ministry called Unlocking the Bible and we were able, through my company, to being in some filmers and set cameras to the theater…S0, we filmed that last Easter and all this last year we’ve been doing the color correction and editing….We filmed six performances.

…The thing that made this (story) so unique is the hook — basically, the thief, now in Heaven, recounting what happened on that day. I’ve been able to talk with folks and share with folks about all the different performances I’ve done  and, to be honest with you, this one was in every way — philosophically, etcetera — the most interesting challenge. There’s a great line in the script that says “On this day, I had breakfast with the devil and supper with the Savior.” Again, it was just a unique piece of content, a great story.

JWK: How did you come to your faith?

SB: To give you the super-condensed version of my testimony, my wife and I had been together for 30 years which in Hollywood is pretty unique but when God’s in the mix you got a chance and part of my testimony which a lot of people know is on a really cool website called I Am Second.

JWK: So, tell me about your production company Lightbeam Media.

SB: We have another movie in the can right now that was in post production before Thief on the Cross. It’s being evaluated by a couple of distributors right now. It’s called Youth Group. It’s a comedy written by a guy named Thor Ramsey who is a stand-up Christian comedian. So, right now one of the larger mainstream distribution companies is looking at it. Were ready to go into movie theaters. It’s a little bit tricky because it’s a comedy and not everyone knows hoe to do comedy well. I’m not saying I’m one of them but I’ve been involved in some fun projects. It also stars Joey Fatone who is one of the original members of Nsync. He was in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a fun movie,along with another very well-known mainstream actor — Donald Faison from Scrubs. And know we’re releasing Thief on the Cross.
All of this is part of a new venture I started called Lightbeam Media with my partner, a guy named Mike Lindell – the My Pillow guy. He’s funding the films and I make them but we do a whole lot of it together, in collaboration. Next week, literally, we go down to San Juan, Puerto Rico to start our third project…Felonies  which is a crime drama.
We just started Lightbeam within  the past year. We’re developing stuff right now…We’re going for the whole world. Again, I’ve been involved in some amazing mainstream projects — The Usual Suspects, an amazing film (and) The Flintstones was a fun film. There’s a list there. I’ve been in over 100 films…You see, I’m not a guy who was a Christian who wanted to go to Hollywood and make a name for himself. I’m a guy who has been functioning in Hollywood for 30 years who became a Christian who now believes Lightbeam Media has a mission to create content that glorifies God but, at the same time, should be just as excellent in its quality as as anything out there by Spielberg or anybody else.
JWK: When it comes to faith-based movies, can you name one that you find particularly well done?
SB:  October Baby was brilliant.
JWK: Finally, you know, I have to ask you about Dnnald Trump and your brothers impression of him.
SB: My brother and I have been going back and forth about these issues for quite some time. I think the Bible says that God allows in politics for these different people to take the position of power and this and that. So, what does that mean? It means that, whatever we’re doing, God’s on the throne. He’s in control.
So, I’m somebody who very early on was supporting Donald Trump because honestly I — like so man other Americans just thought that the country needs someone who’s not a politician. I really thought this guy may do things differently .  It turns out, boy, was I a prophet!
Back in July — even before the primaries last year — I went and did an interview with a guy named Don Lemon on CNN and he asked me what I think (of Donald Trump) . I said “I think this guy would be a great president. (I’m a) Christian who is pro-life and this and that (but) my motivation was more about the economy. It just felt that with the country hurting as bad as it has been, if President Trump could get in that and maybe breathe a breath of fresh air into things it might change the mood of the country — which I think he has to a degree. But, again, there’s tremendous opposition and protest to all that.
Now, all that being said, I think it’s a little bit unique that the protester I deal with in my personal life is my brother pretending to be Mr. Trump on Saturday Night Live.
JWK: Did you see that coming?
SB: No. I knew my brother was talented enough to do something funny but not that funny.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

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