A Different Kind of Dynamic Duo
Recently SCH Contributor Bry Taylor had the opportunity to interview two of the stars from the movie COURAGEOUS. We know you will remember Rusty Martin as Alex Kendrick’s (Actor/Director) on screen son, Dylan Mitchell.
Rusty’s real life dad, Russell Martin, who is also in the movie, plays Frank Tyson the company owner who tested Javier to see if he would be honest. They are a unique team that uses their gift of acting to honor their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Bry talked with them about their personal life, their relationship with God, their currents films, and of course, their time being on set of COURAGEOUS.
SCH: Rusty, thank you so much for speaking with us. Do I understand correctly that you followed in your father’s footsteps to become an actor?
Rusty: Well, actually, he started after me. My agent, Anne Greene, told my parents that since they were going to have to take me to auditions they might as well be available for acting jobs too. My mom did a little but my dad got off to a great start with commercials.
SCH: How long have you been acting?
Rusty: Since fourth grade. No one had signed up for the lead in the school play “Cross Country” so I auditioned for the role of “Harry” and got the part. I really enjoyed being on stage and was able to learn all my lines. I didn’t tell my parents about the play and some of the teachers told my mom how well I was doing with the rehearsals. She asked me about it and after seeing the play she asked if I enjoyed performing and if that is something I wanted to pursue. I said yes and through a friend she was able to find a local talent agent for me. So, I went to an audition to see if they wanted to sign me and they did and I’ve been working ever since.
SCH: We understand there is a unique story about the prom you recently attended. Would you mind sharing that story with us?
Rusty: Sure, it’s kind of a long story so I’ll try to shorten it. I had expressed an interest in attending the Air Force Academy in an interview I did and a gentleman in the Air Force who does a Christian blog saw it. We talked about my interest online and he was very helpful in answering my questions. A guidance counselor in a nearby city saw the blog and knew of a Military college expo coming to Raleigh so she contacted me with information on it. My mom called her for more info and Colleen, the counselor, asked my mom if she could tell her about a young lady at her school. Of course my mom said yes and Ms. Colleen told her about Brittany Hawley, a senior at Fike High School who has a terrible disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
CRPS is a chronic pain condition that can affect any area of the body but often affects an arm or leg. In Brittany’s case it has affected both. She has trouble walking some days and is in intense pain to the point where she can’t be touched. Brittany works in the office with Ms. Colleen part of her school day and when Ms. Colleen asked her who she was taking to the prom she said she wasn’t going because she couldn’t dance and didn’t think anyone would ask her.
When Ms. Colleen asked her if she could invite anyone to go with her to the prom, who would she ask, she said, “Rusty Martin.” Brittany knew a lady at church whose daughter taught at my school so she knew I lived close by. This sent Ms. Colleen on a mission to try and arrange a meeting with Brittany. At that point Ms. Colleen asked my mom if she thought I would be interested in going to the prom. My mom said she thought I would.
When mom told me about all of this, I wanted to meet Brittany and take her to her senior prom. We arranged to surprise her at school on February ninth. I took her flowers and candy and went into the office and asked her if I could go to the prom with her and she said yes. We went to the prom on April fifth and had a wonderful time. Brittany is a very special friend and we keep in touch. We keep praying for a miracle for her.
For more information about Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, Kim Martin was kind to provide this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004456/
SCH: Could you share a little bit about how you came to know Christ?
Rusty: I was raised in a Christian home, went to a Christian school and went to church. I knew about Jesus but my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2002 and we didn’t know how it was going to turn out. That’s when I accepted Jesus as my savior. I wanted to make sure I would see her in heaven if anything happened to her. Our pastor talked with me and after I made the decision he let my dad baptize me, which was really cool.
SCH: Do you have a favorite bible verse you could share? Could you tell me how this verse speaks to you?
Rusty: I Timothy 4:12 is my life verse: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” It serves as a guideline for my life I guess is the best way to put it.
SCH: Many times the experiences we go through change our lives. What did you take away from your time of being on set of “COURAGEOUS”? Is there anything that specifically comes to mind?
Rusty: After reading the script with my dad and working on set together, I realized that I have lived in a bubble. My parents are still together after almost 20 years and I have a great relationship with my parents so I really haven’t experienced what the characters in Courageous had. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot of hurting people in the world, especially kids and I wanted to encourage them that even if they don’t have the best relationship with their parents, that they need to be thankful they have parents. I also make it a point to tell them that their Heavenly Father loves them and will always be there for them, even if their earthly father is not.
SCH: That is very well said. Changing the subject a bit, what do you enjoy doing in your off time?
Rusty: Since my dad was in the military he has taught me how to properly handle a weapon and we enjoy going to the range to practice. He also taught me to play drums. I enjoy going to the movies with friends and love to be outside. I also enjoy reading books when I’m not studying for school.
SCH: What have you been working on recently?
Rusty: I shot DESTINY ROAD last year and it should be out towards the end of this year. That was a lot of fun because I played a pick-pocket and was a bad influence on another kid, I like to think that the role is totally opposite of my normal character but you never know (he says as he winks). I also have a small part in a new film by Cross Shadow Productions right here in the Raleigh area. I worked with CSP early in my career so it was really neat to be asked to appear in PRAY 3. PRAY 3 will be shot in 3D, which is a first for a Christian film. It will be released before Halloween 2012.
SCH: That sounds awesome. Rusty, thank you so much for speaking with Sonoma Christian Home.
SCH: Please tell us what is new for Russell Martin? What new projects are you working on?
Russell: We’ve both got DESTINY ROAD coming out in the fall. It’s a film by based on a book by RR Soares from South America and it follows the intersecting lives of many people. As in our Courageous adventure, Rusty has a prominent role and I play a minor role and we were able to spend several days on set together. I’ve also participated in filming a pilot for a 13-episode, made-for-TV miniseries called THE CARRINGTON EVENT. I have the lead role and we’re excited to see where this project might go.
SCH: Many times our lives are a message to others. What kind of message do you want your life to be?
Russell: I’d like folks to realize that Faith is an action word. I see many Christians complaining, condemning, and criticizing. I believe that God opens doors for us all the time, although quite often he only cracks the door open just a little. It’s up to us to kick the door the rest of the way open to see what he has in store for us on the other side.
I’ll be 54 years old this year and I see many folks my age that are content with 9 to 5, coming home, watching TV, church on Sunday, etc. And that is their life. I believe that God wants us to use all of our talents and abilities to their fullest and that means getting involved and making a difference.
It means working through discouragements. If all the doors in front of you are closed, don’t look down, look up! Chances are you’ll see angels opening windows for you above the closed doors. But you have to be 1) looking, and you have to be 2) willing to exercise your faith and take action when God puts something before you. Anybody that is a close friend of mine will tell you that I have lived my life with this type of faith in mind.
SCH: We know you stay very busy, but in your off time what do you enjoy doing the most?
Russell: I’m a Venture Scout Crew Staff member and Rusty is a freshly minted Eagle Scout, so we’ve spent many days together on scouting adventures over the years. We enjoy playing basketball together, tossing a baseball back and forth, riding snowmobiles and go carts, but we get the most fun out of playing the drums together and shooting weapons.
I taught Rusty to play the drums years ago and like most things, he can outperform me now without even straining. Shooting weapons is a carryover from my days in the military and Rusty loves it when we head out to the range.
SCH: Many people enjoy hearing behind the scenes trivia. Is there anything you could share about being on the set of Courageous that people might find interesting?
Russell: WOW. I could talk for several hours about being on the set of Courageous. I have so many stories of how we saw God’s hand on this project. I’ll tell you one story that affected my son and I. Rusty was 14 years old and was in and out of school quite a bit to get this film completed.
The film was shot in Albany, Georgia which is about nine hours from where we live in Garner, North Carolina. We had a week of filming scheduled where Rusty was required to perform the critical scene in which he breaks down and cries at the kitchen table, exclaiming “I should have been a better brother.” He was stressing over the scene and was also stressing over his schoolwork. He’s a fantastic student and always wants to do well in school.
Well, as soon as we were scheduled to be back in Georgia, Rusty was suppose to be taking his end of school exams, so as we’re leaving for this critical week of filming, some of his teachers really loaded him up with work for the week. His algebra teacher really loaded him up. (Now, remember, he wasn’t going off to play for the school’s baseball or football team and he wasn’t the big star he is today so some of the school staff were not completely on board with his missing so much class time).
So he’s stressing over this scene he’s got to shoot and he’s stressing over an abnormal amount of math work he’s got to do and there were other factors involved but it would take too long to cover in this story, and I can see my son start to crumble under the pressure.
We’re in the car and I’m reassuring him and I’m privately praying to God. And I asked God why in the world would he position this young man and then not give him the tools he needed to persevere in a way that would give God glory.
Well, we reported on set that Monday morning and a new “Child Wrangler” (someone that makes sure a minor on set is always where they need to be, and fed, and in wardrobe and costume, etc.) introduced herself as Mrs. Dee Kelly. I asked Dee what she did full time and she said that she was a stay-at-home mom. I then asked her what she did before that and she said that she used to be . . . yep, a math teacher.
I shamefully thanked God and asked for his forgiveness for my lack of faith. I have pictures of Rusty and Dee studying together between takes. We finished up that week, shot on Monday, left that evening, headed back to North Carolina, drove through the night and into the parking lot of Rusty’s school early Tuesday morning. He jumped out, put on a clean shirt and sprayed some deodorant on, and went in and scored 106 on that math exam. Incredible.
SCH: It is indeed an incredible story. God is always so good to provide for our needs even when we have no idea He is working “behind the scenes.” Well, we have learned that you spent time serving in the Military. First of all from our SCH family to yours, we would like to say, thank you for serving your country. We are a great supporter of our men and women in uniform. Is there something you could share about your military career . . . maybe something you are most proud of?
Russell: I volunteered for the United States Navy in 1977 and spent ten years as an enlisted man in Joint Special Operations. My most memorable duty stations were Macdill AFB, Tampa, FL and Fort Bragg, NC. From these two launching points I was able to see much of the world and was able to operate with the most highly trained personnel in every branch of the United States Military.
I became a commissioned officer in 1987 and piloted amphibious assault ships and managed communications facilities for the remainder of my career. I loved every minute of it and if I were to get a letter in the mail today requesting my services, I would gladly report back on active duty tomorrow.
SCH: Do you have a favorite Bible verse you could share and what it means to you?
Russell: II Corinthians 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, what’s old is gone, what’s new has come”. To me this is the essence of a Christ centered life. No matter our past sins, we are forgiven. In Christ we can start each day with the knowledge that today is a new day and whatever struggles we face this day and in future days are already covered and paid in full by Jesus Christ.
SCH: We know that there are Christians out there who would be interested in doing what you do, so would you share how you got started acting?
Russell: I’ve never had a dream to be an actor. I actually followed my son into the field. I’ve often said to other father’s who’ve asked me about raising sons “if your son loves soccer and you grew up as your high school baseball star, you’d better learn to love soccer if you want to spend quality time with your son.”
Well, my son began acting at an early age and it became immediately obvious that he had a gift and he intended to pursue it. So at the urging of my son and his agent, I tiptoed into the field to simply be a part of what he was so interested in about 6 or 7 years ago. Our agent put me to work immediately and I have especially enjoyed the projects that Rusty and I have been able to work on together. On projects that we do not work together on, we can often be found helping each other rehearse lines and scenes.
SCH: Could you share a little bit about how you came to know Christ?
Russell: I was baptized as a 9-year-old boy but unfortunately our family fell apart and fell away from the church 2 or 3 years later. Life was very strained for my sisters and I throughout our teenage years. When I was 33 years old and was beginning to think about transitioning out of the military, I met a business man. I didn’t know it at the time but he was a Christian.
We developed a friendship and began some business ventures. In time, I began to meet many of his fellow business friends and, without my realization of what was happening, these men began to mentor and disciple me. They filled the void of earthly fatherhood in my life and I was drawn like a magnet to the truths that they held in their hearts. On October 10th, 1991, I rededicated my life to Christ and have done my best to mentor other young men along the way. Many of these young men are still on active duty and scattered around the globe.
SCH: Thank you so much for sharing your heart. We hope the Lord continues to bless your family, your relationship with Him, and your acting career.