Dove: How did you get your start in acting?
David: “To be honest, at the age of 15, I had a huge crush on my pastor’s daughter. One day she asked me if I’d like to be part of the church theater group. I eagerly agreed, and leaned later that she invited me because the group was low on boys. In an attempt to ingratiate herself with the director, she took me along. I liked her enough that I kept going and that’s where my love of acting began.”
Dove: How did you go from church plays in the UK to playing Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma in the US?
David: “After High school, I majored in Drama in College and had a wonderful run in the Royal Shakespeare Company for three years. I did a TV show called Boots in the UK (renamed MI-5 in the US). That was followed by a number of British films, after which I felt a calling to Hollywood.
My wife and I struggled with this as a word from God. I felt that if I was going to the mission field as a Christian, surely it would be to some third world country where they hadn’t heard the Gospel. But I felt God telling me that He could use the movies as a place for me to make an impact. It floored me at first, but recently, I realize exactly what He meant.”
Dove: Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?
David: “I would say that there are a few. Oprah Winfrey has had an immense influence on my life. She has shown me what it is to run with your beliefs. I played her son in The Butler. I shared my belief that I felt called to play Dr. King in Selma even before it looked like was happening. I showed her a little audition I had done. She said, ‘I believe this is your destiny. I’m going to do everything I can to help you achieve that.’
I know for a fact that one of the reasons that film exists is because Oprah signed on as a producer. What I learned through that experience was that destiny, combined with hard work, combined with self-belief is a potent combination. She has been a constant encourager teaching me to not only dream big, but work big.”
Dove: Tell me about your path to the movie, Captive. In an earlier conversation we had, you said you were conflicted by the offer to play the character Brian Nichols, the murderer. Can you explain what you mean by that?
David: “As a Christian, feeling called to play Dr. King has obvious resonance. He was a man inspired to live by the moral code of the Bible. But to play someone who coldly murdered four people in a single morning; that’s not something I get out of bed every day aspiring to do. The reason I felt called to do Captive, was the story…the effect that Brian Nichols (the murderer played by David) had on Ashley Smith (a meth addict played by Kate Mara).
The fact that you have a murderer and a meth addict in an apartment together for seven hours that resulted in a positive outcome is an amazing story. Ashley faced the ultimate choice and as a result of that encounter, never touched meth again, brought her life back, embraced her salvation and recognized the fact that God was in her life giving her a second chance. I find the story so powerful. Unlike many typical movie stories, this is not the case where one person has it all together teaching someone else how to get it together. These are two broken people who are undeniably, miraculously, are brought to higher ground by God in this very dark situation.”
Dove: What impact do you hope Captive will have on those who see it?
David: “My hope is that God will be seen as a God of second chances. As Christian’s we all embrace the second chance of being born again; shedding the old and taking on the new…spiritually and literally. Turning from darkness and into the light
Ashley felt at first this encounter with Brian Nichols must be God’s way of telling her that she deserved death due to the bad choices she made. To her surprise, God redeemed her and gave her a second chance. In a strange twist of fate, she learned that she actually owes her salvation to God and Brian Nichols. She has since gotten custody of her child, remarried a wonderful man and had a second child.
My hope is that people will see through this movie, that no matter the circumstances, God offers us all second chances.”
Thank you David, for such an interesting and inspiring interview. Captive opens nationwide in theaters on Friday, September 18th, 2015 and has been awarded the Dove “Faith Based” Seal with Caution for onscreen drug use. The Dove review will be posted soon to dove.org