I’ve said this to a lot of people before—and I say this for the humor of it—if you’d have asked Stephen Baldwin 25 years ago, “Do you think one day you’ll be playing the thief on the cross as an audio book and then it’ll be a stage play and then it’ll become a movie,” I never would have believed anything that’s going on right now. But I accept it—no question.”

It’s great that you’ve been given the opportunity to communicate this message of grace.

"What’s interesting is—and it’s nice that we’re circling back to this, because I wanted to—that’s been the cool thing. I get this phone call—‘Do I want to do the audiobook and play the thief on the cross?’ My very first thought after the idea of that question, of course, was arrogance, because I thought it would look really cool on my resume—‘Stephen Baldwin: Thief on the Cross’. And of course I’m joking, but there’s a little truth to that, meaning that how many times might I have the opportunity in my career to play this type of a role or a character that for me, creatively and artistically, is so unique. That was one of my greatest motivations.

So here, this opportunity comes, and God’s doing what He’s doing, and I’m thinking ‘Oh, it’s kind of this normal thing,’ but then through the process of the experience, when you talk about that grace that you’re referring to relevant to the thief on the cross, I actually had to get into God’s word in such a way that the intimacy of it, spiritually, was very challenging and deep, if you can imagine.

Coming out the other side of all that, kind of like when you hear an awesome sermon that really changes your life, or you know, or you hear that Christian song that really shifts you in that moment—for me, this experience was that thing. God wanted me in my own heart to connect with this thing so that it would bless me just as much as potentially the entire opportunity may bless others in the future.”

In your opinion as an actor, do you think the Christian Church makes full use of the arts, or you think there’s some room to grow?

“The first answer is: it’s not my job to try to figure out what God’s doing. A.K.A., shut your mouth, Stephen—you stay humble, focus on your own thing, and let God figure out the rest. That’s my first answer.

And then my second answer is: well of course there’s a whole giant humongous tremendous gigantic opportunity that’s still out there for Christian film.

Is there a rumor out there that most Christian movies are kind of cheesy and dorky and whatever? Yes, but let me tell you something—God uses those movies, as well. And part of what I’m experiencing now, with this project—it’s the first production from my new company, called LIGHTBEAMedia, and its calling is this: it’s to create Christian content unapologetically, that is able to be as excellent in its quality, if not better, than what Hollywood has to offer today.

So that’s how I answer your question. Do I think there’s room for improvement within the faith-based filmmaking community? Of course there is. And let me tell you something—those movies are coming. There’s a tsunami of Christian content that’s coming that’s going to be bigger and better and more excellent.

But I still say God bless the little guy that’s making a short film or—doesn’t matter. We should all aspire to create content for God’s kingdom that’s better than anything else out there. That continue to be our hope and our strive for excellence.

But certainly for my company, LIGHTBEAMedia, part of our brand will be that we achieve that level of success so well. LIGHTBEAMedia aspires to be the Miramax for Christ, so to speak.

And I believe we can do that. God has prepared me for this. I’ve been working in Hollywood for 30 years, made a hundred movies, and now all of a sudden I have the opportunity to start creating our own films, the first one being Thief on the Cross. We have another one already finished that’s being looked at by several distribution companies called Youth Group—it’s a comedy that was developed by a guy named Thor Ramsey. And now, one of the biggest secular Hollywood distributions is looking at our movie, “Youth Group,” for consideration for that to go out around the world.

Like you were asking, certainly LIGHTBEAMedia right now is trying to fill that vacuum of need for better quality Christian content. That’s what we’re aspiring to do.”

Final Thoughts

The Gospel authors could have chosen to focus only on Christ during the crucifixion—after all, what good is some thief? But Jesus showed the world what the thief's past didn't matter, that anyone could be saved, no matter what they had or had not done.

In the thoughts of Baldwin’s thief, “If Jesus could forgive His torturers, well, maybe He could forgive me.”

Since its debut on April 4th, you can check out “Heaven, How I Got Here: A Night With the Thief on the Cross” at Christiancinema.com.