Angus Turner Jones, the "half" of CBS's Two and a Half Men, sent shockwaves through the entertainment world this week by denouncing his own show, the third highest-ranked TV comedy, as "filth" and urging viewers to stop watching.
Since age 10, Jones has played the character Jake Harper for nine seasons—eight of those as Hollywood's highest-paid child actor, making roughly $8 million annually. His declaration was spurred in part by his newfound faith in God, a faith he says is at odds with the themes of the show. Jones graduated from high school in June and plans to attend college in Colorado next fall. I sat down with him in October to discuss his conversion to Seventh-day Adventism and what it means for his acting career and his future.
Tell me about your conversion experience.
About nine months ago, there were a series of events in my life where God was talking through other people to me. What God was giving me was, "The way your life is set up now and the way you are living and planning on continuing to live [smoking weed, doing acid] is not going to get you what you want." I just had this big wakeup call. It was in conjunction with one of my older cousins, who—four months prior—God had woke him up in a similar way. This was over a couple of days before New Year's and then two other specific nights, Jan. 22 and 30, I felt God was speaking to me. There were so many other things I could have steered off into that could have made me just another statistic.
How is that impacting your work now?
It's a really interesting experience. I know I am there for a reason, but at the same time I have this strange twist of being a hypocrite: a paid hypocrite. That's the way I have been looking at it lately.... Even though it's my job to be an actor, I have given my life to God. I am very comfortable and firm in that, but I still have to be on this show. It's the number one comedy, but it's very inappropriate and the themes are very inappropriate. I have to be this person I am not.
What does that mean for your future with the show?
I don't know what it means for the show, but I only have a contract for this year.
What do you say to Christians who want to be in entertainment without compromising?
What I would say to a person who is firm in their faith and wants to go into an acting career: It is such a difficult thing to do without compromising your beliefs. Even though you are just pretending, if you sign the contract and agree to do what they are doing, even if your character is not evil or doesn't compromise your belief, you are in a world similar to that of Alexander the Great. Everything the Greeks did was to promote their own worldview, their schools, their theater, their religion, and their sports. You are either in the world or with God. Committing yourself to some kind of job that isn't committed to God is going to bring so much trouble into your life. It's not good and not something I would suggest that someone seek.
You graduated in June. Other than work, what are you doing these days?
Right now I am doing a lot of work for my church, taking an evangelism class, doing a lot of reading—mostly the Bible and things that coordinate with the Bible and go with the evangelism class.
Why are you taking an evangelism class?
I feel it is extremely important for me, given the position that God has given me, to get out there and do his work. The Bible says, "To whom much has been given, much will be required."