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The C.S. Lewis biopic, “The Most Reluctant Convert,” debuted on the big screen on Nov. 3. The film follows C.S. Lewis’ turbulent journey from an adamant atheist to a passionate Christian who became one of the most prominent Christian authors of the century.
Max McLean, founder and director of the Fellowship for Performing Arts, stars in the biopic as the famed author C.S. Lewis. McLean spoke of his first significant encounter with the works of C.S. Lewis in an interview with “The Christian Post.” Shortly after McLean converted to Christianity at age 23, he received a copy of Lewis’ novel “1942”. The book’s plot consists of a devil instructing his nephew, “Wormwood,” on how to tempt and lead astray Christians.
“And I read one page, and I said, ‘I know this guy. This guy has been in my life for a long time, and now he was exposed.’ And the way Lewis exposed him, he made spiritual warfare very real,” the 68-year-old actor recalled of C.S. Lewis, “Being an adult convert, you bring a lot of doubts and baggage with you because belief is hard. People that are raised in a faith, their souls, their conscience are formed. That belief becomes an integrated part of who they are. An adult convert has to undo so much. And Lewis had the same experience. So, he just helped guide my way.”
The Christian artistic director spent most of his career delving into C.S. Lewis’ life journey and literature. Being a seasoned theater actor, McLean reprised Lewis’ novels for theater adaptions ranging from “The Great Divorce” to “The Screwtape Letters”. McLean’s most recent adaptation was Lewis’ autobiography, “Surprised by Joy,” which the New York native turned into a theater play called “C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert.”
The successful play was then turned into an official biopic to honor the story of the late, influential Christian author. McLean prepared for the vital role of C.S. Lewis by conducting extensive research on every single part of the author’s life. In addition, the dedicated actor memorized hours of his quotes to capture his essence truly.
“Lewis lost his mother at nine years old to cancer, had a terrible relationship with his father. He saw the brutality of World War I, the butchery of it. And he came to the conclusion as a result of that, either there’s no God behind the universe, a god indifferent to good and evil, or worse, an evil god. So that was his starting point.” McLean explained Lewis’ difficult upbringing.
Due to its immense popularity and demand, the film’s distributors announced that the movie would have more theater showings through Nov. 18 all over the country. The movie already generated box office sales of over $1.2 million.
The highly anticipated movie will also have special premiere events in theaters in the United Kingdom where the movie was filmed. Filming spanned across 18 different locations in and near Oxford, England, where Lewis resided as an English Literature teacher. Those set locations included his former residence, The Kilns, where he created his famous Narnia books and his college, Magdalen.
Even after his passing in 1963, C.S. Lewis is still one of the most illustrious Christian authors in the world. McLean expressed that he hopes that the audience “sees the God that Lewis sees” in “The Most Reluctant Convert.” He said that Lewis’ story shows that views and doubts people have against Christianity all have rebuttals that can open their minds and hearts to the love of Christ Jesus.