Presenting a remarkable true story about the transforming power and importance of faith, family, friendship, unconditional love, and forgiveness, Same Kind of Different as Me is a beautiful, not-to-miss movie. Featuring the skillful performances of Academy Award® nominee Greg Kinnear, Academy Award® winner Renée Zellweger, Academy Award® nominee Djimon Hounsou, and Academy Award® winner Jon Voight, the film is sure to inspire audiences to “Make A Difference” in the lives of others, because as character Denver (Hounsou) would say—everyone can help someone.
Same Kind of Different as Me tells the story of international art dealer Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear), who befriends a homeless man (Denver played by Djimon Hounsou) in hopes of saving his struggling marriage to Debbie (Renée Zellweger). Debbie’s dreams will lead all three of them on a remarkable journey. Hall’s father, played by Jon Voight, will also be transformed and reconciled by the relationships of Ron, Debbie, and Denver.
This engaging, inspiring movie comes to theaters Friday, October 20th from Paramount Pictures and PureFlix. Pristine and rated PG-13 for thematic elements, this film is appropriate for teens and adults. It is based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent. This uplifting movie provides solutions to today’s challenges of racial and socioeconomic divides and of homelessness.
Producer Darren Moorman has worked alongside various industry leaders including MGM and DIRECTV, producing several film titles along the way such as the following: All Over Again, Sensation of Sight, The Fifth Patient, Unconditional, Crackerjack, and Seven Days of Change. He is in post-production with his next two movies, Run the Race and Indivisible, both set for theatrical releases in 2018. He is co-founder of the Everybody Can Help Somebody Foundation, a not-for-profit created to help those in need.
Sonoma Christian Home has an exclusive, delightful interview with Darren Moorman. SCH Editor At Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.
SCH: Please tell us about the red carpet event planned for October 18, nationwide in 150 cities throughout the US to raise money for homeless shelters.
DM: We showed this film to the Union Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and now we have partnered with them for our Red Carpet for Homeless. There are currently 1,750 Red Carpet events with 500 and more involved for October 18. We hope to build an army of those more aware of these issues to serve as a springboard to bring awareness to the nation at large. The film will be used to help raise money for the homeless across the country.
SCH: Please tell us more about the Everybody Can Help Somebody Foundation, which is a not-for-profit created to help those in need.
DM: The name came from Denver who said, “Everyone can help someone.” It started in Jackson, Mississippi, where we wanted to rebuild a mission and were ultimately able to do that. See the DonateNow.
SCH: What motivated you to become involved with this film?
DM: I first read the book and became the first film producer to connect with Ron Hall.
SCH: Tell us the importance of simple acts of kindness and forgiveness.
DM: Simple acts of kindness and forgiveness with individuals and within families can multiple to impact whole cities and regions.
SCH: How did the life of the homeless man, Denver, impact the sophisticated world of international art dealer, Ron?
DM: Denver showed Ron that out of deep pain can come depth of spiritual insight.
SCH: How has this film created awareness and outreach to the homeless even before it is seen on screens by the public?
DM: It has impacted the work of the Union Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and influencers who have seen it in screenings. I have seen the response in screenings and the momentum of awareness and commitment to make a difference escalating.
SCH: What is your hope for audiences who see this true story?
DM: We have lived in Santa Monica and now in Pasadena where there are large populations of homeless people. Working on the project has changed how I relate to homeless people. My hope is that the movie entertains, inspires audiences to look at people around them differently, shows them how they can help, and motivates them to act differently and concretely.
SCH: How do you hope this movie will enhance the book?
DM: I hope it that as a worldwide film it will bring attention to the book.
SCH: How do you hope the film will encourage audiences to demonstrate meaningful acts of kindness (even in small ways).
DM: My hope is that audiences will open their eyes to people around them and to see that every life matters. Everyone can become part of the Make a Difference Movement. See Same Kind of Different as Me.
SCH: How can people become a special promoter for the movie?
DM: Everyone can become an insider for the movie. See Same Kind of Different as Me’s site.
Same Kind of Different as Me is based on the true story of a successful businessman with a broken marriage, an emotionally scarred homeless man with sensitivity beyond his circumstances, and the woman who helps them experience bonds that cross racial and socioeconomic divides.
The film follows Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) an international art dealer, has a home life in Dallas that is not as fulfilling as his professional one. He has stopped working on anything but appearances in his marriage, which he likely saw in his estranged alcoholic father (Jon Voight). However, when his wife, Debbie (Renée Zellweger), discovers Ron’s infidelity, she she digs deep to forgive him, on the condition that he joins her in volunteering at a local homeless shelter. He joins her in volunteering at the shelter to restore their marriage and to put some shared purpose back into it.
As Ron struggles to find the same joy his wife experiences in helping the less-fortunate, the couple meets Denver (Djimon Hounsou), a homeless man served by the shelter, whose gentle heart has a veneer of a tough exterior from decades of accumulated injustices. Debbie pushes Ron to become friends with Denver, a man with deep wounds masked by tough exterior, because she is convinced they have what it takes to discover a life-changing friendship and ultimately to heal each other’s wounds and brokenness. However, just as Debbie’s plan begins to bear real fruit, tragedy strikes challenging them all.
Director, Michael Carney’ says, “This is a story about three people – it’s not just a story about a rich art dealer and this homeless guy,” Carney explains. “Without Debbie, there would not be a story – and most people were immediately going to do this book as a buddy film with these two dudes. My take was those guys would have never been together without this incredible woman – she was the anchor of the film.”
“Look, we need checks, and those homeless missions need checks, but they also need our hands,” Carney says. “Debbie was not going to let Ron get off the hook anymore by just writing checks. She was going to make him pay with his hands. He had to go down there, he had to get his hands dirty, and she was going to make him write a big check, too.”
That dollop of wisdom is pure and vintage Denver. As much as he is helped by the Halls through their persistence in convincing him that they truly love him, the real story and the film make pretty clear that as the blessings get passed around among the three of them,
Denver may have handed out the most.
“It’s amazing the way these three people all interacted with each other, and the story finds them right at the apex of the most significant time of their lives,” Kinnear says. “Understanding Denver and his journey, how we find him at the beginning of the movie, what’s happened to him, and how he overcomes it – in a way saved the Halls. That was such a refreshing thing, that you had this homeless African-American guy who, through just the simplicity of some of the things that he says, and through his actions, and just who he is, made a big difference in their lives.”
Renée Zellweger says of Debbie, “She was fearless…She truly believed that kindness begets kindness, and her mission was to make a change within this community, that it might look at homelessness and homeless people and their circumstances in a different light. That’s where it all begins. It begins with one person making a decision to put their hands on something, or into something, that needs fixing, and recognizing their own ability to have an effect.”
“And it trickles down from there,” continued Zellweger. “You empower someone else, and they empower someone else, and it goes on and on. If somebody’s having a better day because you made the choice to be kind, that’s no small impact. It reverberates. And we need that.”
Further, Rene says of Debbie, “What an exceptional person that she’s able to see people in their best light,” she says. “She’s able to look past whatever damage causes them to be fearful in the world, and act out. It’s inspiring.”
“No matter how mean and bad I tried to act at the mission, I couldn’t shake that woman loose,” Denver wrote. “She was the first person I’d met in a long time that wasn’t scared of me. Seemed like she had spiritual eyes: She could see through my skin to who I was on the inside.”
Director Michael Carney agrees, noting that the love Debbie gave came back to her through a changed husband and a changed Denver. “Debbie did these incredible things, had an incredible heart to actually go into that community,” Carney says. “But Denver was the one who really changed Debbie, and changed Ron, and changed everyone around them because he was non-judgmental, he was so soft-hearted and good-hearted.”
In fact, it is Denver who ultimately encourages Ron to make peace with his father, noting that he needs to “love the hell out of him” – no small feat because, in characterizing the older man’s years of mistreating his family and others, he slyly notes “he’s got a lot of hell in him.”
Jon Voight, who plays Ron’s dad, Earl, says the homeless man’s insights about his friend’s father are spot-on for an interesting reason.
“If Earl didn’t have his family around him, given his drinking and what I think is PTSD from the war, he’d be in the streets, there’s no doubt about it,” Voight says. “So he’s closer to Denver than he is to his own family, closer in experience. He has to learn in the end, like Denver does, how to trust people and live with them peaceably.”
Filmgoers can make their own impact on the world by emulating the journeys and actions of the film’s characters. “I do think there’s an inspiring element to this movie that should encourage somebody to pick up the cause and do something to help people that need help,” notes Kinnear. “I honestly don’t ultimately think that the movie is pushing a message of, ‘You need to go do this.’ I think it’s a much more subtle message and much more powerful because of it.”
“It tells honestly the story of some people who got more out of something than they gave, and hopefully that message will inspire in its own way.” says Kinnear.
Zellweger sees the film similarly saying, “One of the things that I love about this story is that there are so many themes of healing.”
“There’s spiritual healing, there’s literal healing, and with Debbie and Ron, it’s about a long time relationship that is severely damaged, and worthwhile, and worth enough to make the effort to repair it,” she says. “And by sharing this mission to help other people they come together again.”
Hounsou agrees with the insights of his co-stars. “The relationship between Ron and Denver has a lot of different colors, a lot of different layers,” Kinnear says. “We start, obviously, not in a very good place – there’s suspicion, there’s distrust; but over time there’s honesty, and ultimately there’s love. In the end, they believe in one another.” So much so, in fact, that each becomes the other’s confidante and comfort when a tragic illness strikes Debbie.
“Your impact could be very simple,” he says. “It’s just doing the things you do with the most gifted, open heart.”
Producer Mary Parent concurs. “Denver is somebody who could have just dropped through the cracks. People like him do drop through the cracks every day,” she says. “But for Denver to go from where he started, to endure what he endured at the hand of a cruel and often racist society, and to come out the other side the man that he is, it’s just incredible.
“You know, he’s the wise man of the movie,” Parent adds. “Denver’s the character that’s actually saving everyone. He’s scary, he’s lovable, he’s funny, he’s wise, he’s strong, he’s all of these different things wrapped into one that make him what drives the whole film, really, and what drives a change in Ron’s life that I don’t think he anticipated.”
Denver’s message: As Moore himself put it in the book on which the film is based: “There’s something I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin you can do, that’s when God takes over.”
The essence of Denver’s impact, according to Hounsou, is showing his friend that real fulfillment in life has nothing to do with a dollar sign.
“As Denver would say, it’s the things you give away for nothing are the dearest gifts you have to offer,” the actor notes. “The things that have no monetary value, but soulful value. He helps Ron understand we’re all social beings – wealthy or poor, we all need one another. None of us can cope without the proximity of another human being. That’s the powerful message throughout this film for me.”
“After Debbie passed away, Denver and I were on our way back to the ranch about two or three weeks after that, and he started laughing hysterically,” Hall remembers. “And I had found nothing funny through all of her suffering and then her death. So I said, ‘Denver, what is so funny?’ And he said, ‘Mr. Ron, there ain’t nobody ever gonna believe our story. We got to write us a book.’”
“And I said, ‘Well, the funny thing is you don’t read and you don’t write, so who is going to write this book?’ And Denver said, ‘Oh, you know what I mean. I know my part of the story and I’m gonna tell it to you, and you write that down. Now you already know your part, so you go ahead and write that down, and when we get through we’ll just put the two of those together and we’ll have us a book.’”
“And so by then Denver had moved in with me, and we spent the next three and a half years at the breakfast table writing us a book.”
Once their story had been told in script form, it landed on the desk of producer Mary Parent. “I read the script, and I got to about page sixty-five and I broke down crying,” she says. “Denver’s final speech, this notion that we’re all the same, and we’re all on the same path headed in the same direction ultimately, just doing the best that we can … that was an incredibly powerful moment for me.”
“The world would be a much better place, a much more hopeful place, if we all treated each other with the love and compassion Ron, Denver and Debbie shared so freely,” Producer Stephen Johnston says. “This is a powerful, compelling movie that can change hearts – and lives.”
“It’s kind of incredible what a little love can do” sums up the real-life and the reel-life of Ron Hall in the Same Kind of Different as Me.
The film’s official website provides the following: links to the trailer, a video feature about the themes of the story, information on buying group tickets, a blog that includes excerpts from the book, and endorsements by influential leaders.
PureFlix has become the largest independent faith and family studio in the world. Their recent releases include The Case for Christ, God’s Not Dead 2, God’s Not Dead, Do You Believe?, and Woodlawn.
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