First Love, Second Chance
About the Guest
Sometimes life gives you a second chance to make things right. Join us today as Dennis Rainey welcomes Russ Rice, executive producer of the new release, No Greater Love. The movie, a Christian romantic drama, is about a couple whose marriage is torn apart by workaholism and depression. Joining Russ in the studio is writer/director, Brad Silverman, and lead actor of the movie, Anthony Tyler Quinn.
Russ RiceRuss Rice is the founder and president of Coram Deo Studios and producer of Grace Unplugged. He and his wife, Carina, live in the Los Angeles area and have five children, four of whom now work for dad.
Sometimes life gives you a second chance to make things right.
First Love, Second Chance
Bob: We’re bringing one of those hidden gems. Actually folks may have been hearing about this because there’s been a lot of articles in magazines, and a lot of stuff on the Internet. The word’s starting to get around about this new movie that’s releasing next week.
Dennis: You’re speaking of the movie: No Greater Love and we have the executive producer Russ Rice of No Greater Love, also Brad Silverman – writer, director of the movie along with the lead role Anthony Tyler Quinn. We’re going to refer to him as Tony if that’s okay?
Anthony: It’s perfectly fine!
Dennis: Glad you guys could join us – thanks for being on the broadcast.
Anthony, Russ, Brad: Thanks for having us
Dennis: You know when there’s a movie that comes out of Hollywood instantly I want to know the spiritual story behind the movie. I’m not talking about the script or the actual movie. I want to know your spiritual stories, and how each of you three guys came to faith in Christ? Because for someone to let their light shine in Hollywood in such a way it means they had to have a confrontation with the living Christ to be that courageous. Russ, you want to start?
Russ: Absolutely. I grew up in a home that was not a Christian home, and when I was in high school I said a prayer, got baptized, said I was a Christian. I was a basketball player in high school, I got a chance to play in college, played one year in college, and then had a chance to go on to pursue pro ball and in that process I happened to meet this young lady, and three days after I met her I asked her to marry me.
Bob: Wait – three days?
Russ: Three days – yes!
Dennis: You’re a man of action aren’t you?
Russ: Yes - she said yes!
Bob: Whoa – wait – wait! She said yes?
Russ: Yes, I actually didn’t ask her I just told her that’s what we were going to do and she agreed. So, it made it pretty easy!
Dennis: You were used to tackling people on the field. That’s what you did with her didn’t you?
Russ: Yes don’t get in my way on a pick I’ll run you over. But, I knew if I did that I couldn’t pursue because I was going to try to play in Europe and at that point they weren’t paying like they do now so I knew I had to quit and get a job and be a real man instead of playing around.
Bob: So, wait it’s pro ball or marry somebody that you just met three days ago? I have to stop here and find out about this three-day relationship – how did you go from nice to meet you to will you marry me in three days?
Russ: I wish I could!
Dennis: He’s still trying to figure it out himself Bob!
Bob: Wondering what hit him!
Russ: Well, I’m still wondering what happened to my wife during that time because she was out of her mind to even agree to it. But 28 years later I’m thankful that she did! Yes, I don’t know – I just knew she was the one.
Bob: And she knew you were the one!
Russ: Yes, exactly, and so she thought she was marrying a Christian.
Bob: And you thought she was marrying a Christian, too.
Russ: Absolutely – I said a prayer, I got baptized, and I’m saved; no big deal I can go on and live my life. I have the fire insurance taken care of. So, seven years into our marriage I was a really rotten husband to be blunt about it. I treated her very, very wrongly and she had a rough seven years. She could have divorced me maybe not on biblical grounds but just the way I treated her. Seven years into it I had some success as a fundraising sales rep and was doing very well as far as financially but really our marriage was just kind of existing unfortunately like a lot of marriages.
I started meeting with these guys everyday and they were studying the Bible. They were literally two hours a day, and they asked me to join them – I said, “Well, I’m a Christian, I don’t need to join you. I just like hearing you read the word. You’re in the restaurant I go to every morning.” But I eventually started meeting with these guys, and within about a month and a half of that time I came to the realization that I was not saved.
For the first time in my life I understood what it meant that I am totally depraved, there is nothing good in me and I repented of my sins and in God’s electing grace before the foundation of the world He brought that that he did before to fruition in time. I was saved and our marriage immediately changed but, my life had changed – there was a true radical transformation inside.
Dennis: You know we’re talking about how folks can go to the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference here in the first couple weeks of January, and it’s interesting that it was your marriage that kind of brought you to your knees and ultimately how you found your own need of Christ. Now, Tony for you as an actor did you grow up in the church or have a religious background? How did you come to faith in Christ?
Anthony: I grew up in a non-religious home. I mean not to sound repetitive with Russ, but my experience is very similar. My family background is just riddled with divorce. As a matter of fact I’m the only one in my family that is still married to the same person they said their vows to. You know, I met my wife when I was 14, as a matter of fact I tell my daughter all the time: She’s 14 – I say, “You know I met your Mom when I was your age.” She says, “Dad, that freaks me out!”
Dennis: I can’t believe you’re telling your daughter that!
Anthony: Yes, then I always tell her you know the circumstances are going to be different for you. I wasn’t a Christian then! But, we got married. Marriage scared me to death as a non-believer. I really loved my wife but I thought I’m going to be just like my family. On average there are at least two marriages waiting for me. What I learned about my family background is that you don’t change.
Bob: You thought that going in.
Bob: I mean the day you said your vows you thought well this probably the first of a couple.
Anthony: Yes. I’m destined for this because how can I change it?
Dennis: Had you talked to your wife about that? Did she know you had that attitude?
Anthony: Yes, she knew my background. She knew me since I was 14. Just to give you an example. Not to get too personal here but my grandfather was married three times. My grandmother was married five times. My uncle was married four times. My mother was married twice. My aunt was married three times. My stepfather was married twice. My real father was married five times. My brother has been divorced and remarried twice. My other brother has been divorced and remarried. Literally it is just everywhere in my family.
So I thought I’m no different than them. I told my wife before we got married, I said, I’m scared to death because what’s to change our future? You’re marrying a guy like me. I’m going to be just like them ten years down the road. Who knows when something will snap, or something will happen in my life, and I’ll just either leave you or maybe I’ll be a rotten husband. I’ll just be selfish. It scared me to death. I mean I was not a Christian. At 25 or 26 the Lord saved me. He literally made all the difference. When Christ came into my life and literally defined me. He’s made me the husband that I am today.
Dennis: He defined your marriage as well!
Anthony: He defined my marriage as well.
Bob: What was it that brought you to a point of spiritual awareness?
Anthony: Being raised in the Catholic church you know I was an altar boy and I really sort of got into that just being an altar boy because it was a position of responsibility and I enjoyed that. So, we used to hear certain things.
God has a sense of humor. He used a cultist actually to get me into the Bible.
Dennis: Hold it – hold it – hold it! We’ve had a lot of things admitted here on FamilyLife Today this is the first cultist we’ve given credit to lead someone to Christ.
Anthony: My wife was a friend of this girl, who was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she came over to the house and I notice that she’s kind of like talking to my wife and stuff. I said, “What are you guys talking about?” She said, “Oh, we’re just doing a Bible study” I said, “Oh, that’s cool.” She says, “Yeah we’re looking at this stuff.”
My wife’s kind of looking at me going hey did you know that she’s saying that Jesus isn’t God and all that stuff? I said, “Oh, okay are you like a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness, and she says, “I’m of the Watchtower.”
I said, “Well, I know that isn’t right. I know Jesus is God. I know that much.” She said, “Well, that’s wrong.” She said, “That’s wrong – look,” and I said, “Look, I’ll tell you what? Give me about a week, and I’ll get back to you.”
All I wanted to do was prove her wrong. I had no real interest in seeking the Lord or knowing Him at all. So, I got into my Bible, and the Lord opened my eyes. I started looking at things that I’d never seen before and I was thinking not only is Jesus God but I want to know Him. I want to follow Him.
Then I had a conversation with this girl, and I started telling her. All of a sudden she just didn’t want to come around anymore. That’s how God sort of got my nose in the scriptures, and opened my eyes, and opened my heart.
Bob: Did it happen with your wife at the same time?
Anthony: Yes it did actually! God saved us both!
Bob: Wow – that’s great!
Dennis: And you’ve been married how long now?
Anthony: 24 years!
Dennis: You know we had a guest here on FamilyLife Today, I can’t remember whom – Bob may recall but it seems like it was a woman who said, “I grew up in such a family of divorce I thought divorce was hereditary.” She said, “I’m determined by the grace of God that’s been given to me to stop the legacy of divorce in our marriage and in our family.” That’s what you’re doing.
Anthony: I mean all I can say is that Jesus has made all the difference.
Dennis: And the movie is all about that legacy, too. This is a cool movie about that. Well Brad how about you?
Brad: Well, basically background wise it’s Fiddler on the Roof – just Eastern European Russian Jewish that’s pretty much my ancestry.
Bob: Were you practicing Jews? Did you go to Hebrew school, did you learn the Torah growing up or were you observant on the high holy days, and the rest of the time it wasn’t any big deal?
Brad: Definitely the latter. Yes, we definitely were not very religious – very cultural, very identity oriented, very be proud of your heritage and so on. That was really the scope of it. So, that really ironically didn’t play a big role in my upbringing. It wasn’t until I began to explore the things of Christ where then it became an issue. Nobody cared leading up to that but once I began to ask about the carpenter then all of a sudden then it was important that I was practicing Jewish.
Bob: So, to be a nominal Jew that’s fine but to be a serious Christian isn’t fine?
Brad: Correct! In my family!
Bob: How did becoming a serious Christian show up on your radar screen?
Brad: Well, at an early age I found my way toward the entertainment industry both in mainly in front of the cameras – as a comedian, as an actor and kind of kept pursuing it. I met a friend who was also an actor. He was also an Elvis impersonator who was a very committed Christian. Russ has met him. Just a committed Christian: we called him evangElvis.
He’s just this weird dichotomy guy. He walked into the room and he’s got the hair and everything and I’m going who is this guy—A committed knowledgeable biblical Christian.
What he began to do was he began to talk to me about the Jewish history of the Bible. I knew nothing about it. I never knew Jesus was Jewish or that the writers of the scriptures were Jewish.
It was something so separate but he really began to historically bridge the gap between Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and then the lineage through Christ. It was purely intellectual for me, but it was very, very fascinating, and I rather enjoyed it quite a bit.
So, over a period of a couple years we became friends, and continued the relationship. Then in God’s providence as an actor I landed a role—a lead role playing a Christian missionary where basically the entire piece was my character sharing the faith with another character. Anthony - he was the only guy – Elvis – he was the only guy I knew who was a Christian. So, I took the script to Anthony.
Dennis: To get the language right?
Brad: To get the language right you know, and I’m just literally watching him read the script. I’m just kind of watching what’s animating him. What’s getting him excited, you know what’s interesting to him, and then I just started to imitate Him, and I would ask him. To do the part I had to memorize scripture. I had to learn apologetics. I had to be able to articulate it, and to defend it, and to handle objections, and so on and so forth. So, I did the part, and after that Anthony and I parted ways and my life just collapsed. I got really heavy into drugs and alcohol – just my life for a couple years just gradually spiraled downward.
Fast forward a couple years just in God’s providence I bump into Anthony again. At this point my life was humbled enough – he had invited me to church many times in the past. This time you know I was pretty much on my last legs, I had nothing else to stand on and kind of similar to what these two gentlemen have been talking about you know my family – I love them dearly but you know unbelieving family. Divorce is rampant. A lot of problems, and so there wasn’t that aspect of the model. Anyway when Anthony came back into my life I just needed something so I was eager to go to church with him. I went to church with him and still about another year of cat and mouse with me.
Then, just began to really study the scriptures, and for me it was really memorizing scripture. I just began to memorize just passages, and then books – just did so much memorization and would just go through life reciting the scriptures. Somewhere along the line the Lord just showed exceptional mercy to save me from that sinful state.
Dennis: That’s cool!
Bob: You know we started off here by hearing three great stories of redemption, and we told our listeners we were going to talk about this new movie that’s coming out.
Dennis: Well, they have to know where it comes from – it’s spiritual roots.
Bob: Yes, that’s the point. I think when you understand the worldview – the orientation of the folks who are behind the art it gives you a better understanding into what the story’s about, what the motives are about, what the movies about.
The movie that’s coming out is called: No Greater Love. It’s actually going to premiere this weekend in churches all across the country, and then it arrives in stores on DVD on Tuesday. I guess we ought to ask the screenwriter to give us the synopsis of the story. It’s a marriage story right?
Brad: Sure! Basically you have two soul mates who grew up together – lifelong soul mates, childhood friends. At a young age they get married and by all accounts through all their friends they’re going to be the lucky couple. They’re going to be the ones that are going to make it. Everything just looks great.
Dennis: Brad, do I need to warn you not to give away the punch of this story as a writer? Do I need to caution you about that?
Brad: You really should – you really should!
Bob: I think he can handle this!
Brad: Yes, that’s it, and then the rest just happens.
(laughter) The zany fun just kind of takes off!
Dennis: There’s some interesting twists in this though seriously!
Brad: Yes, well when the story begins you have this couple who were lifelong soul mates. Well, after marriage like so many I’m sure can experience things don’t quite go the way they had planned, and it becomes a rather violent household. Then, they have their first child and shortly after they have their first child the wife really falls onto some hard emotional times.
We don’t really address that specifically in the movie but exactly what causes her demise but it leads to a very destructive and self-destructive lifestyle that she begins to lead which eventually leads to the ultimate unforgivable action, which is, she abandons her family.
Bob: She walks out of the marriage and disappears, and her husband Jeff – that’s you Anthony in the movie right?
Bob: He doesn’t know where she is. Can’t find her and he has a one year old baby, and he has to figure out how to get on with his life basically right?
Dennis: And Anthony I have to tell you I thought you did a marvelous job if I can say it this way of being angry. It wasn’t a cheesy fight. When you are in there arguing about your work and your priorities and she is disappointed this is taking place in families—Christian families all across the country. I appreciate the way you as a team have put this together that it isn’t some little sweet angry husband. He was ticked off and that could have been a part of her demise. That would be what I would say from watching it. He didn’t love her and serve her and nourish her and cherish her. She fell apart because she didn’t have anybody else to go to.
Anthony: I have to give Brad the credit on that because at certain times you get into a scene or something like that and everything is clicking but he said here is what we are going to do and just free wheel it and do it. As two actors you sort of connect with each other and bring each other to that place you have to go in order to get to that place emotionally.
Dennis: Now that would never have happened in your marriage however in the number of years you have been married right?
Anthony: Never. That is all I’m saying.
Bob: That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Well, let me just jump ahead because the bulk of the movie takes place ten years following Heather’s disappearance right?
Dennis: Are you really going to go there Bob?
Bob: Just enough so that listeners know.
Brad: It’s in the trailer Dennis. It’s fair game.
Dennis: So go ahead and tell them then.
Brad: It’s actually Russ’ son Brandon Rice who came up with the germ of this story and it is brilliant. Basically we pick up the story ten years later. Jeff has moved on and their son is now 11 and Heather is nowhere to be found. Jeff is befriended by a guy named Dave. I actually named him Dave Torrey because my friend is Tony Letorrey who led me to the Lord. There is trivia for your audience.
Basically Dave’s son and Jeff’s son are friends so with summer approaching Dave invites Jeff’s son to come to a camp at their church.
Dennis: Kind of like vacation Bible school.
Brad: Exactly. Jeff accepts and he and his son, Ethan—Those are our two lead characters—They are going to vacation Bible school at Dave’s church played by Jay Underwood. They go to the camp and they have a great time and life seems to go on. Well, at the last day of camp we learn a surprise twist to our first big twist to the story that one of the camp helpers is his ex wife.
Bob: And at that point all of a sudden now there is the question of where is this relationship going to go? Is it going to reemerge? Jeff is considering marrying someone else at this point and we won’t go much beyond that. There are still a few twists in the story even at this point.
This is really your first film as a motion picture company right?
Russ: It’s our first Christian film. We’ve done some other stuff, kid’s films, and stuff but this is our first Christian film.
Bob: When you decided to do your first film did you know you wanted it to be a marriage story?
Russ: Silence! (laughter)
Basically it happened like this –we had just finished a kids TV pilot that didn’t get picked up so anybody out there that wants a great TV show for kids we have one. We did this kid’s TV pilot, and I wasn’t content to just sit around, I think Brad wasn’t either. So, I came into Brad’s office one day, I just said, “Hey, let’s make a movie, let’s not just sit here. Let’s make a Christian movie.” We all agreed. There are four of us in the group, and so then we thought well what kind of story can we make? Brandon reminded us of his story idea, which was the germ of this film. It was about marriage, and about forgiveness, and all these things. So we thought okay, and we started just building the story from there.
Dennis: Well, I’ll tell you what my take away from your movie is: I think God is going to use this to give the church heart to once again believe the scriptures and embrace what it teaches about biblical marriage, and how we need to approach permanence in marriage.
I just appreciate your courage in stepping out in an arena, and taking on one of the more difficult issues which is divorce, and taking it on in a very novel and intriguing way to kind of figure out how’s this all going to work together with a couple of people who collided with Christ, and then collided with truth, and then had to decide how they’re going to live – what their response was going to be to that truth.
Bob: Well, and I think back to a year ago when the movie Fireproof came out on DVD. I know there were a lot of people who were getting a copy of that for themselves, but also to invite friends over and watch a movie together. It’s a great way, a non threatening way, to have a spiritual conversation. This is the kind of movie where you can do that without apology.
In fact I know a number of churches this Sunday night are going to get a sneak peak of the movie. They are going to be showing this as a Sunday night special premiere and then I know of other churches who are going to do something around Valentine’s Day.
If our listeners are interested in getting a copy of the DVD, and using it to invite some friends over just watching it together with your family go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and the information about how to get a copy of the No Greater Love DVD can be found there.
Again the website is FamilyLifeToday.com – you can also order by phone at 1-800-FLTODAY – again it’s 1-800 “F” as in family “L” as in life and then the word TODAY. Again when you contact us we’ll let you know how you can have a copy of the movie sent to you as soon as it is out on DVD next week.
Now, I need to wrap things up today by reminding folks that today, and tomorrow the last two opportunities we have to let you know about the special buy one get one free FamilyLife Weekend to Remember offer we’ve been making for FamilyLife Today listeners. You can register online at FamilyLifeToday.com – if you do that identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener by typing my name – typing “BOB” in the key code box on the online form, or call 1-800-FLTODAY. We can get you registered over the phone. Just make sure you mention you listen to FamilyLife Today so you will qualify for this buy one-get one free opportunity for FamilyLife Today listeners and then join us this spring at one of the upcoming Weekend to Remember Conferences.
Now, tomorrow we’re going to be back and talk more about the movie No Greater Love. We’re going to talk about the plot and some of the twists and turns that take place in the story. I hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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