The beautiful and talented Nancy Stafford (“Matlock”) stars in the heartwarming Christmas with a Capital C, now available on DVD. She spoke to me about the movie and about the way her faith leads her to projects that share her message of faith and God’s love for each of us.
Tell me about the character you play in this movie.
I love this movie and I love my character! I play the heart and soul of the film, all due to the fabulous work of Andrea Gyertson Nasfell, who wrote the movie. I play the wife of the mayor of a small town in Alaska, played by Ted McGinley. We’re the kind of town where everyone gathers together at Christmas big time and we have a tradition of putting the nativity scene in the city park. And then a long-time childhood friend comes back to town and challenges us with a legal battle to remove the religious display from city property and gets an injunction, the town is split. Some people think we ought to make it more inclusive and get rid of the name “Christmas” but others say “we can’t let these folks to roll all over us.” My character is the one who brings some reason and some heart. She says instead of being combative and argue our way into agreement, why don’t we put our feet to faith and allow our actions instead of argument be the thing that is louder? Why can’t we be Jesus with skin on and do what Jesus said He had come to do, to be Emmanuel, the God with us, and be the heart and soul and mind of Christ for the people around us. The whole city launches a Christmas with a Capital C campaign of acts of kindness and service. We give away hot chocolate and wash people’s windows and do things for the homeless and those who have a little less. It changes the heart of the Grinch character but it also changes the whole town. I love the film because it makes the world recognize how ridiculous it is to try to take Christ out of Christmas but it is also a message to the church. It’s not to say we should not stand up for truth and righteousness but it is to say that our positive actions, our loving response to the people around us, even those who don’t agree with us, that changes people’s hearts.
Your character really tells people to start with themselves and that will change people more than arguing with them.
I got to say the best speeches in the film!
Tell me about your “Grinch” character.
Daniel Baldwin, one of the bad Baldwin boys. He’s a lovely guy, but plays a hardened character who grew up in the town but has gone off and seen the world and has had some unfortunate run-ins with Christians who have turned him off big-time. I can relate to that. I grew up in the church myself but when I went to college and didn’t have to go to church I chose not to. I had some issues with what I saw as hypocrisy in the church. So I get it! I was a prodigal for 15 years before I darkened the door of a church again. So I know there are a lot of people who don’t have a problem with Jesus but they have a problem with the church. So this guy comes back and he is hurt and disappointed and he does not want to participate or have it in his face. But he is a hurting and broken man. He has some vulnerability. So in the story when our daughter gives him cookies and it’s such a literal picture of her peeking in the window and seeing what was really happening in his house, like peeking into his soul and seeing that he is destitute on the inside.
Is it important to you that the projects you work on reflect your faith?
Yes, it is terribly important to me. I have been blessed to do two faith-based projects. For a lot of years I did not want to do them. I have been lucky enough to have some success in secular marketplace and only in the past few years I have seen Christian films that can hold up in the marketplace of films, that are looking better and better. But even though I have done secular work my faith has still been the driving force on what I choose to do. It dictates everything I do in life. I am not going to do anything that is counter with a Kingdom value. Over the years, as a result, I’ve worked less and less, but God is gracious and won’t let me leave the business. Part of it is the projects I turn down and part is just the roles for women over 50 in Hollywood. But I am speaking a lot and doing conferences and retreats and writing books and ministering to women, so my world is more spread out.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
There are so many! But I love Isaiah 61. They are life verses for me. They resonate to my heart and have been transforming for me. When the old prophet Isaiah is telling of Jesus coming, the pre-incarnate Christ talking through this prophet saying. “I’ve come to preach the good news, bind up the broken-hearted…oil of gladness instead of despair.” The great exchange we get when we have a life in Christ continues to touch me.
I’d love to hear about your new book.
I love this book! It’s called The Wonder of His Love: A Journey to the Heart of God. It’s a 30-day devotional that invites the reader to dive into the heart of God and discover 30 aspects of His love we might not always see or understand. Each one is on 30 different ways that God loves us. It’s really personal but people really seem to respond to it. I love women and I minister to women and my first book was for women but this one is for everyone, men and women, not a chick book. I write what I need. When I started writing Beauty by the Book: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You it was because I desperately needed to be reminded of who I am in Christ. I needed to assured and reminded of my value and my true worth, not based on what I look like or what I have or how I perform but on how He says about me me. The same thing with this book. I needed in my own life to be reminded of God’s actual, unshaking, immeasurable love for me. As I pored over scripture, I just saw it flying off the page. I started writing down a list of the aspects, the qualities of God’s love, His nature. I thought, if I need this, maybe someone else needs encouragement. When I’m walking through shadow times and in heartache or pain or disappointment, when it seems He cannot see me, when I can’t see His love at all, it is steadfast and always there.