David Oyelowo Opens Up About His Christian Faith, Explains Why Standard Must be Raised for Faith-Based Films in New Interview

( [email protected] ) Sep 21, 2015 12:14 PM EDT
Golden Globe nominated actor David Oyelowo views his impressive career simply as an outlet to share the Gospel and raise the standard of faith-based films.
David Oyelowo stars in "Captive," which hit theaters September 18. BEN HASSETT FOR VARIETY

Golden Globe-nominated actor David Oyelowo has opened up about viewing his career as an outlet to share his Christian faith and why he believes the standard must be raised for faith-based films.

In a recent interview conducted by Tyler Huckabee for Relevant Magazine, Oyelowo, 39, a British-born son of Nigerian parents, first discussed God's hand in guiding his impressive career.

"We all know from a biblical point of view of what God does in the secret place before you're then put out in public," he said. "We see that with Moses, we see that with David, we see that with Joseph, and with Jesus Himself. I feel that's been my journey as an actor."

Huckabee notes that in interviewing Oyelowo, he was struck by the actor's unflinching dedication to his faith: "He is wildly, plainly, unapologetically Christian. He's obsessed with Jesus. You can hardly get him to talk about anything else," Huckabee writes.

Oyelowo shot to fame in 2014 after starring as Martin Luther King Jr. in the hit film Selma. He's once again earning rave reviews for his riveting performance as Atlanta serial killer and kidnapper David Nichols in Captive. In the movie, which premiered Sept. 18 and is based on a true story, Nichols' captive Ashley Smith (played by House of Cards star Kate Mara) reads him portions of Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life", changing both of their lives forever.

When asked why he chose to star in Captive, Oyelowo explained that he often turns down movies which glamorize violence or the "darker side of sex or criminality." Instead, he seeks out stories that do not hold up darkness as the path to follow but show "how light overwhelms the darkness."

"For instance, in Captive, we had to fight against every instinct to make it feel cool," he said. "Nothing should be glamorous about it. That's what dictates my choices, is basically telling that truth. These things are not edifying to anyone, whether it be the perpetrators or the victims. For me, I don't mind showing those things as long as they are being shown for what they actually are. That's what governs the choices I make."

Oyelowo also remains strikingly humble, explaining that he views his career as a means to share the Gospel and raise the standard for faith-based movies.

"I'm definitely an example of God using the foolish things of this world to confound the wise," he told Huckabee. "I know I've been given these opportunities for a reason. I've been given a degree of notoriety. I can now try to marry Hollywood's desire to get to a faith-based audience, and try to get us as people of faith wanting to have films made that have broader reach and have high production value."

Oyelowo expressed frustration that in the past, too many faith-based films have sacrificed Biblical accuracy for the sake of cinema: "The Bible I read, it doesn't really correlate with those films," he said.

However, he also criticized Christians for backing such films simply to promote their views. He argued that before engaging culture with the Gospel, filmmakers should first be "fantastically good artistically, creatively and have a vision beyond a core Christian audience."

"'You look at the parable of the talents: God wants us to take our talents and increase them and make good on the investment He has made in us, and I take that very seriously," he explained.

"'I know that I am not owed the right to make movies. I know God has given me this privileged position and I have to work dog-hard as an actor to make the films the best they can be. I think that if you're doing that, then you can really start doing some damage."