LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – The actress best known for her lead role in the hit movie Fireproof has a new movie out this weekend, and she's hoping it helps change how people view romances.
The movie is New Life (PG)and the actress, Erin Bethea, not only stars in it but also is a producer and a writer. The film is the first release from Argentum, a company that she and actor/director/producer Drew Waters formed. The company has as its goal the making of high quality, entertaining movies with no gratuitous objectionable content.
Romantic movies, Bethea believes, should not be synonymous with "raunchy." She bemoans the notion that 50 Shades of Grey is the "new definition of romance."
"I think New Life is a very sexy movie," Bethea, who shaved her head for the role, told the Christian Examiner. "I think the chemistry is great. And if you have the right characters and the right script, that's all you need. To have to go to that other level, of gratuitous sex scenes, in order to sell it as a romance, it probably means you should have cast it better or written your story better, because we should feel that heat without having to show it all the time."
Moviegoers might "feel the heat," but what they won't get from New Life is nudity and profanity. The movie tells the story of a boy and a girl, Ben and Ava, who live in the same neighborhood as kids and meet at the age of seven, and eventually fall in love and get married. The film takes a turn when tragedy strikes, endangering their future together as a couple. Jonathan Patrick Moore plays Ben, while Bethea plays Ava.
Christian Examiner: How do you want this movie to impact people?
Bethea: Certainly, I want them to enjoy a great, romantic night at the movies where there's nothing that's going to make them cringe or want to cover their husband's eyes or anything like that. But on a deeper level, I want them to walk out of the theater with a sense of hope, that every day is a new day. The struggles that the characters face in this film are basically the most terrifying questions in our lives, and yet they still have hope. And they choose joy and they choose to make the most of their circumstances, and I think that's really a powerful message for people. I think, ultimately, it's a movie about hope. It's certainly sad at times, and I think a lot of people are going to cry. But hope is not a powerful thing unless a situation seems hopeless. So we have to go there – we have to go to a sad place in order to bring you back to a place where hope is a really powerful choice.
CE: You shaved your heard for this role. Did you have any hesitancy doing that?
Bethea: I really didn't. Initially we were looking into doing the bald-cap-thing. But I knew that shaving my head was the right thing to do, because our hope for this film is that it feels very real – that these don't feel like actors up on the screen. That it feels like people that you know, and almost maybe like you're watching somebody's true story unfold in front of you. It was the right choice to make the film emotionally impactful.
CE: You co-wrote this, starred in it and produced it. What is it like to carry that type of load with a film?
Bethea: I kept saying the whole time, "I miss just acting, where I just show up and they tell me where to stand." It's so much easier when you're just acting. But I loved being able to develop the character that I knew I was going to play, so I could put things into her personality that I wanted to explore as an actress or that were a reflection of my own personality, that I have not gotten to show in a film before. And from a producer's standpoint, we got to handpick our team.
CE: Tell me about the new film company that you and Drew formed, Argentum Entertainment. What types of films are you wanting to make?
Bethea: We've always thought New Life would be the purpose flagship film for our company, because it represents everything we want to do as filmmakers, which is we want to tell relatable, captivating, emotional stories that are free of gratuitous objectionable content, but also are really high quality and very entertaining, and maybe have a deeper message and a deeper purpose – so you are entertained and also walk away with a few questions or a few challenges.
For more information, visit NewLifeTheMovie.com