Hollywood actor David Oyelowo chose to star in the upcoming film Captive because it highlights the transformative power of the Gospel and proves that hope can be found in even the most devastating of circumstances, he told Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren in a recent interview.
Oyelowo, who is an Academy-Award nominated actor and outspoken Christian, plays Brian Nichols, a convicted felon who escapes jail, murders four people and injures others before holding drug addict Ashley Smith (played by House of Cards star Kate Mara) hostage in her apartment. However, after Smith reads to Nichols from Warren's best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life," Nichols decides to release her and surrender to police.
"I was less drawn to playing Brian than I was drawn to the effect this event had on Ashley Smith. And as a Christian myself, I was just so taken with the fact that you have a murderer and a meth addict holed up together for seven hours. Somehow out of that comes salvation, hope, redemption, and Ashley Smith in particular stepping into a new chapter in her life where she gets her life back," Oyelowo said in an interview broadcast on Saddleback's online church.
"Often what comes out of Hollywood is not edifying, not godly, doesn't have a moral compass, certainly doesn't hint at true hope," the Selma star continued. "This was a story that I just knew I had to be part of seeing come to fruition."
When Nichols overtook her, Smith was struggling with an addiction to meth - in fact, she had used the drug the night before her capture. However, after she refused Nichols' offer of meth during the hostage ordeal, God delivered her from the addiction that had destroyed her life and caused her to lose custody of her daughter.
Since then, Smith has remarried, regained custody of her daughter, is author of "Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero." She also works as an inspirational speaker, sharing her story of hope and redemption to help others with similar struggles.
Speaking to Oyelowo, Warren contended that Smith is an example of how our greatest ministry can grow from our deepest hurt and pain.
"One of the chapters she read to Brian out of Purpose Driven Life was 'You're Shaped to Serve God.' And that's everything she's done since that moment," Warren said. "I mean it literally turned the trajectory of her life and she has used the way God shaped her to serve God and others. ... She is serving God out of her pain."
Oyelowo told Warren that can relate to Smith's story, as he has also experienced the transformative power of the Gospel.
"When I became a Christian at the age of 16, it was outside of my religious experience, it was outside of ... my upbringing," Oyelowo said. "I felt God say to me, 'David there is nothing you can do to make Me love you less. And I truly believe it was a revelation of that fact, in the midst of this event, that started to turn things for Ashley. She had messed up so much that she felt she deserved death, and yet a new hope started rising up in her, partly because Brian was a mirror to her of how bad things can get without the Lord's intervention. And so having been given a second chance beyond this event, it was the point beyond which -- to hear her say it -- she didn't feel a pull towards meth again."
The themes of redemption and hope are what drives the story of Captive, explained Oyelowo, who met Nichols' mother Claritha Nichols in August.
"She said that [Nichols] has said very recently that he is [in prison] where he is supposed to be, which is a really chilling thing to say," Oyelowo recalled. "But in that moment when Ashley was reading your book to [him] I truly believe that what was speaking to his spirit is he may have run out of credit here on earth, but there is a life beyond this life and there is hope for him beyond this life. And to take yet another life in the shape of Ashley's would be just a further erosion of his own life. And so there was a hope of something beyond that situation they were in, even for him."
Captive was released in theaters nationwide on September 18th - the 10th anniversary of this miraculous true story. For more information, visit www.captivethemovie.com.