The Faith to Move Mountains—And to Make Movies About Faith | CWR Staff
“At the end of the day,” says actor and producer Eduardo Verástegui, “if you take faith out of the equation, you collapse.”
Eduardo Verástegui is a man of many talents: singer, model, actor, producer, pro-life speaker. After a successful career in music as a young man, he began acting in Mexican telenovelas, earning the nickname “the Brad Pitt of Mexico”. After moving to Hollywood to pursue a career in films he returned to the Catholic faith of his youth. He then co-founded Metanoia Films with Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and Leo Severino. In 2006, the company released its first film, “Bella,” which was directed by Monteverde and starred Verástegui; it won the “People's Choice Award” at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival.
Metanoia Films' second film, “Little Boy”, opens tomorrow in theaters nationwide. It stars Jakob Salvati, David Henrie, Kevin James, Emily Watson, Ted Levine, Michael Rapaport, Ali Landry and Ben Chaplin, and is distributed by Open Road Films. (You can read Catholic World Report's review of the movie here.)
Verástegui spoke with Catholic World Report this week about his career, working in Hollywood, the success of “Bella”, the making of “Little Boy”, and the necessity of faith in every aspect of life.
CWR: When “Bella” was released in 2006, you said, "Hollywood doesn’t belong to the studios. Hollywood belongs to God.” How would you describe “Hollywood”? And what have you learned about it over the years?
Verástegui: Hollywood is a great platform that gives you an opportunity to send a message through art to the whole world; it's like a megaphone—when you speak through a megaphone, like the megaphone of Hollywood, the whole world listens to you. But at the same time that can be very dangerous because anyone can go there and say whatever they want, but it does not mean that any message that comes forward is truth.
In my opinion, a high percentage of what is coming out of Hollywood is very disconnected from the reality of who we are in this country and what families are—and that can poison the minds of the youth. At the same time Hollywood can be a great platform to do something good, and that's what I am trying to do—to be involved in projects that are rich. My goal is to produce movies that have potential to make a difference in society. My hope as a filmmaker is that as people leave the theater they will be moved, touched, and inspired to do the right thing.
In particular, with “Little Boy”, I hope that people will leave theaters full of hope, faith, and love. I believe art has the power to heal and bring people together. All of that exists in “Little Boy”. It surpasses those elements that are important for me to share with the audience. I am doing this not just to make movies, but to spark a movement of love, a movement of hope through the expression of art. Through art we can elevate the intellect toward what is good, beautiful, and true.
CWR: You've also indicated that “Bella” wasn’t meant to be a “religious film” but a film with universal themes appealing to a wide range of people. Did the success of “Bella” confirm the need for such an approach? And was the same approach taken with “Little Boy”?
Verástegui: Yes, Metanoia Films produces films for everyone, not just one group.