Kimberly Williams-Paisley: ‘Jesus Revolution’ offers message of inclusivity


Kimberly Williams-Paisley stars in "Jesus Revolution." Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Kimberly Williams-Paisley stars in “Jesus Revolution.” Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

NEW YORK, April 25 (UPI) — Nashville and According to Jim actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley says her faith-based drama, Jesus Revolution, offers a message of hope and inclusivity in dark and divisive times.

“God is for everybody. Nobody is too broken to come and be with God and have love and acceptance and that, to me, is the most important message of the film,” Williams-Paisley, 51, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

The actress wanted to play struggling single mom Charlene Laurie In the film, which was released on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, because the story helped her understand a woman’s choices and circumstances that are unlike her own.

“I was so drawn to this part. She’s somebody who is very different from myself and, as an actor, that was a very exciting idea for me,” said the wife of country music star Brad Paisley and mother of two teen sons.

“I also loved that this was based on a true person and a true time in history. I loved, of course, being able to transform through the wigs and hair and makeup — just the period of it and I loved the hopeful aspects of the film.”

Set in 1970s California, Jesus Revolution follows Charlene’s neglected son Greg (Joel Courtney), an aspiring filmmaker and comic book illustrator, who is looking for meaning and purpose when he meets street preacher Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie) and Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer), the leaders of an enormous, enthusiastic Christian revival movement for hippies seeking fulfillment through faith, not drugs or public protests.

“I’d always heard the term ‘Jesus freaks,’ but I didn’t really understand what was happening,” Williams-Paisley said of the movement.

“I loved doing a deep dive into all of that and even seeing it on the screen, this whole time of upheaval and change and what came out of it and how long it has lasted in many ways. It’s a really interesting part of our history.”

The real Greg, now 70, has been a church pastor for decades and hosts the weekly Harvest at Home online church program.

He and his wife, Cathe, were on the film’s set to answer any questions the actors might have about his life and ministry.

“They are such a great, inspiring couple,” Williams-Paisley said. “They were there and available the whole time.”

The actress found talking to them and reading Greg’s books extremely helpful in relating to the late Charlene, who often ignored her son while she was getting drunk and dating men who treated her badly when Greg was young.

The mother and son were, however, able to form a more positive relationship later in their lives and the film ends on an uplifting note with Greg forgiving Charlene and allowing her a place in his heart.

“She made a lot of choices early in her life that were hard to recover from, but there is a hopeful ending to Charlene and I think Greg led her to some more positive choices towards the end of her life,” Williams-Paisley said.

The actress described Courtney as a “present, calm and grounding” scene partner, even though some of their moments together were emotionally intense.

“He just knocks it out of the park,” she said.

“We got to rehearse together, which was wonderful and then we had to jump in together right away. We started shooting some pretty heavy stuff; the scenes at the end were our first day of filming. It was like the first thing we shot.”

Viewers of all backgrounds, even those who aren’t into Christianity, can enjoy and get something out of the movie, Williams-Paisley said.

“It’s a historical film. It’s a slice of that time period and it’s a really interesting story,” she said.

“So, if you’re not already convinced, it’s an interesting film to go and see a historical perspective on a movement,” she added. “It’s also got a lot of humor. I love that they don’t shy away from that.”

The actress thinks another “Jesus Revolution” could happen.

“I know that’s what the filmmakers are hoping for,” she said. “I think as long as the message is acceptance and love, there’s absolutely a chance of that.”

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