Kirk Cameron may be best known as a former teen idol and as one of the stars of the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains. But over the past decade, he has been cultivating another, very different fan base, as the star of several Christian movies—including the Left Behind series and Miracle of the Cards—and as an evangelist with The Way of the Master, a ministry he shares with Ray Comfort.
Cameron, who turns 38 in October, became a Christian while still in his teens, and he has been married to the actress Chelsea Noble—who he met when she guest-starred on Growing Pains—since 1991. He recently published a book about his life and career, called Still Growing: An Autobiography (Regal).
Now he has a starring role in Fireproof, the new movie from church-based filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who made the popular Facing the Giants a couple ago. In the new film, Cameron stars as a firefighter trying to save his marriage.
Cameron spoke to CT Movies by phone while promoting his book.
Did you approach the Kendricks about appearing in Fireproof, or did they approach you?
Cameron: I approached the Kendricks after seeing Facing the Giants and said, "You guys did such a great job on this little movie, if I can help you out with your next one, please let me know, I'd love to be a part of it." And through a series of events, I developed a friendship with the Kendricks, and after they had auditioned everyone they thought might be right for the role, they couldn't find anyone. Then they asked me if I would fly to Georgia and audition.
How did it feel, auditioning for something like this?
Cameron: I was really excited because I wanted to be a part of this movie. It was such an exciting story, and it was a tough audition. They made me audition nine of the hardest scenes in the movie, I mean the ones that were the most emotionally stressful, from crying my eyes out to being angry and verbally abusing my wife, commanding firefighters to asking my wife to forgive me. It was an unconventional way of getting a film for me, but it was a pleasure to be a part of that whole ministry project.
As a Hollywood star, did you ever have the sense that you shouldn't be auditioning for something as small and volunteer-based as this—that they should have simply been grateful to have someone of your caliber? I don't mean it to sound as bad as it might, but do you know what I mean?
Cameron: Yeah, I know, it's kind of a funny question to articulate. But I think I understand what you're saying. And there was the sense, when they asked me to come audition, in which my manager and even myself to some degree said, "Well, you know, I've been at this for 25 years, you can pretty much see what I've done in the past." And I think the point was, they weren't convinced, based on what I had done in the past, that I was the right guy for this role.
There really is no other role that I've played that has required the kind of digging down deep and being emotionally intense the way that this character is in this film. So in essence, it was like, "Hey, you know, we don't know if Kirk can cut it. We like him and what he stands for, but we need to see him do things that he's never done before." And so that's why they wanted me to audition, and I understood that.
So I worked with an acting coach, developed some skill that I hadn't exercised before, and went out there and gave it my best. And they came to the conclusion that I was the guy for the role.