Faith amid the darkness
David Oyelowo talks faith, fear and film
Best known for his acclaimed performance as Martin Luther King in Selma, David Oyelowo is an actor who has never been reluctant to talk about his Christian faith. In his latest film, Captive, he plays Brian Nichols, the real-life murderer who in 2005 escaped from custody and took a woman hostage. Reform met him in London in September where he was speaking to press, and asked him about the spiritual experience of playing a man with such demons
Playing Brian Nichols, every day I felt like I needed to exorcise myself – it was very intense. I needed all of the spiritual tools I had to keep me sane. I really struggled with playing a murderer, but, as a father of four, I could identify with the notion of being kept away from my children and what that could elicit within me. If I were taken hostage for seven hours, by this murderer, and told to take meth or I would be killed… I’ve never taken any drugs myself, but I can’t promise you that I wouldn’t. Ashley’s is one of those extraordinary stories that illustrates none of us really know how we’d react under these given circumstances, but grace is grace.
In the film, Brian says he is living with a demon inside him. I’m a producer on the film and that was a line I wanted in it. It wasn’t in the original script, but he said that. For me personally, there is a physical life, there is an emotional life and there’s a spiritual life. Brian had engaged in a very dark spiritual space to do what he did. It wasn’t just an intellectual choice as far as I’m concerned – he was taken over by something.
Captive features two people who were not pursuing God, but faith, grace, forgiveness and redemption intersect with a dark situation, and that’s something I think everyone feels the need for and can relate to. We can all go to places that are fundamentally the opposite of godly…
David Oyelowo is an actor, producer and director. The text is taken from an interview given in London in September. For church resources that explore the issues raised in Captive, visit http://ethosmedia.org/captive
This is an extract from the November 2015 edition of Reform.