I had a comfortable conversation with Erin Bethea last week. She is one of the ensemble actors starring in This is Our Time!, which releases on DVD Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
CJ: You’ve had experience working with new directors, experienced directors, and now a female director. What was it like working with Lisa Arnold?
ERIN: What is great about working with Lisa is that she wrote the script and is a talented writer. She really knew the story well.
CJ: Did that background help Lisa cast the roles?
ERIN: She is amazing at casting. She knew what she wanted and got it…a perfect cast. They picked people that were the characters. When I met them, they were just what I expected and we built strong friendships, just like our characters.
CJ: What was it like working under Lisa?
ERIN: She has a quiet grace on set. Not too dynamic…she’s gentle and gracious. She is subtle, but pushes you in a way you don’t realize. I would happily do anything with her again.
CJ: There are a lot of Christian films about good people becoming better people, which make finding a unique role difficult. What was a unique aspect of your character Alé that you hadn’t played before?
ERIN: I do play a lot of the same roles in faith-based films, but Alé is the first sold out believer, instead of the person that is not yet quite there. She was warm and friendly. I wished I were more like that girl. She has a warmth…she’s sweet.
CJ: The story was about the character of Ethan finding what gift God had given him and choosing to live it out loud. It seemed like your character was Ethan’s archetype or role-model that encouraged him to step up his life to God’s calling. What was it like to play such a powerful role-model with humility?
ERIN: It was a bit of a challenge. I wanted to keep Alé likeable. Because she’s everyone’s favorite, you don’t want to play her in a way where she becomes annoying. We all know amazing people who don’t realize how amazing they are, and she didn’t’ realize the gift she brought to others. She was just being who she was, so her seemingly perfection didn’t come across contrived.
CJ: In the film, Alé inspires everyone in the story. In what way did she inspire you personally?
ERIN: We shot in India in an actual leper colony for three days. For three days I really lived out her ministry. You can’t walk away from something like that without being impacted, challenged, and being other’s minded.
CJ: Do you find that the audience wants you to be that person in real life?
ERIN: There is an expectation that is placed on you as an actor. Fans are taken aback when they find out that you are not like the person they fell in love with on the screen.
CJ: As a Christian actress, are you limited to always playing the good guy? Wouldn’t it be refreshing and expand your acting chops if you played a bad guy?
ERIN: I would so love to play a bad guy. Please, someone put me in a film as a bad guy. I just want to play a villain…a rotten person. A friend of mine has a theory that nice girls can play bad people really well by playing the exact opposite of who they are.
CJ: Christian movie fans seem to put a lot of expectations on Christian films. Do you have any thoughts on the matter?
ERIN: I think that Christian films in general have a different set of expectations. People will accept certain things in a secular film that they won’t accept in a Christian film.
CJ: But what about films like Les Miz, which in my mind is one of the greatest stories of redemption ever told.
ERIN: I loved Les Miz. It was a great story of redemption. But if it were made as a Christian film, there would be an uproar over there being a prostitute in the film, and rightfully so. We are called to something higher.
CJ: We do have a higher standard to live by. But, how much greater is the value of redemption when the person’s devastating choices are revealed in the storyline?
ERIN: Storytelling…when Christians see that the arch of the story has redemptive qualities…if they see it embrace people…they get behind it like they did with The Blindside.
CJ: You seem genuinely thankful for the acting roles you’ve received. You must have fun playing the various characters.
ERIN: Making a movie is pretty much the most fun thing on this planet. You make friends on set that will be your friends for years.
CJ: Erin, thank you so much for your time today and chatting about your experiences.
ERIN: Thank you, CJ. It was a pleasure meeting you.