"I believe there's heaven," says 'Heaven Is for Real' actress Margo Martindale, 62.
The film, based on a 2010 New York Times bestselling book, opens in two weeks, and Martindale was obviously touched by her role in the film, according to a recent interview she gave to USA Today. The movie tells the story of a 3-year-old boy who claims to have visited heaven during a near-death experience, and then relates various memories he has from the experience to his pastor father.
The book about the true story remains on the best-seller list, having sold 10.5 million copies in 25 languages, three and a half years after it's first publication.
"I read part of the book and wasn't surprised that could happen. Who's to say what that little boy experienced isn't absolute truth," she asks.
According to the the the film's website, it's the story of the real life Burpo family from Nebraska.
It centers on Colton Burpo who reports visiting heaven during emergency surgery on his appendix, that nearly killed him. After the experience, he opens up to his parents about looking down to see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. At first, the family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
In heaven, Colton met his sister whom no one ever had told him about, who miscarried before he was born, and he meets his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He goes on to share impossible-to-know details about each of these people, astounding his family but freaking out some people in his community. Colton even goes on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, and he tells about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.
Besides Emmy-winning Martindale, who plays a skeptical church board member, 'Heaven is for Real' stars Greg Kinnear as Pastor Todd Burpo and Kelly Reilly as Sonja Burpo. The boy Colton Burpo is played by newcomer Connor Corrum. It's directed by Randall Wallace, who previously directed 'Brave Heart' and 'Pearl Harbor' among other blockbusters.
It's produced by Pastor TD Jakes of the Potter's House Church in Dallas, who promised Burpo he would protect the story, and was attracted to the possibilities that come from telling the story.
"The great gift of 'Heaven is for Real' is the possibility of the impossible, the touchability of the abstract-so powerful that we feel as if we are one with something we just can't touch," Jakes said. "That's what faith is."
At the same time, Jakes said, the story also reveals the complexity of faith.
"The faith in this film is far from simplistic," the pastor said. "It's no quick solution, nothing magical. It's a struggling, stumbling, groping, grasping faith, reaching through dark fear and confusion to solidify the abstractions of life. And it's appropriate that a little child teaches adults how to believe again, how to trust again."
The movie is set to open nationwide April 16, just before Easter.
Watch the trailer