Hollywood star Matt Marsden urges young Catholics to get involved in movies

Matt Marsden Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus CNA340x269 World Catholic News 8 19 11 Actor Matt Marsden. Photo Courtesy of the Knigts of Columbus

Hollywood actor Matt Marsden said that young Catholics need to get involved in movie-making and other artistic ventures if they want to change the culture.

“It’s vitally important for the future,” the 38-year-old actor – who has starred in movies such as “Black Hawk Down” and “Transformers” – told CNA during his World Youth Day visit in Madrid on Aug. 19. 

“There’s not going to be anything left if we don’t fight,” he added. “Pope John Paul was so explicit about it wasn’t he? About getting involved in culture and movies – and at the moment we’re not.”

Marsden had just taken part in a panel discussion on the subject of faith and entertainment at Madrid’s Palacio de Deportes indoor stadium which, for this week, is a base for English-speaking pilgrims at World Youth Day. 

“There’s so much I wanted to say to the young people – that I’m so proud and inspired by them and that they’re so far along in their faith at such a young age. I think that’s really crucial.”

But it is the culture that young people are growing up in that most concerns Marsden, and the lack of impact that Catholicism has upon the movie making process in Hollywood.

“We are the only group that doesn’t have a voice in Hollywood – the only group – and that’s totally down to investment.”

The solution, said Marsden, is for “high net worth” Catholics to come together to create a film fund that could invest in specific film projects or even buy a studio. Otherwise, film projects that promote or reflect a Christian worldview simply won’t get made, he said.

“You’ve got to look at something like the 'Passion of the Christ,'” Marsden noted. “To me it always was a slam dunk. You’ve got Mel Gibson who, for me, is a fine actor and is an even better director – the guy is a genius – and he couldn’t get funding for it. That for me is just madness.”

“Catholics,” he said, “will sit about and complain about the state of the culture but then they’ll go and build a wing of a hospital. That’s great but they’d have much more impact on the culture as a whole if they invested in a film fund.” 

Marsden originally hails from near Birmingham in England but now lives in Los Angeles, despite his ongoing obsession with his favorite English soccer team, West Bromwich Albion. His greatest passions in life, however, are his family and his faith.

“I get great inspiration from my wife,” said Marsden, who has been married to Maltese-born Nadine for the past six years. They have three children.

“She is the way that people should live their lives. The way she behaves, she’s amazing. Every time I look at her I see the goodness of God. I really mean that –  because she’s an angel.”

Equally inspirational, he said, are prayer and the sacraments.   

“Confession is very, very important as well. When I was younger I never went to confession and now I go weekly. It is such a great gift and people who don’t go should go.”

As for future projects, his ambition is to make a film about the 16th century Siege of Malta when the Christian Knights of St. John, vastly outnumbered, defeated the Muslim forces of the Ottoman Empire.

Marsden explained that “if Malta had gone Christendom would have been wiped out.”

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“It is a staggering story of faith, just staggering,” he said, but it would also make “an incredible action film.”

The hero of the story is Jean Parisot de Valette, the Grand Master who was “a 73-year-old man fighting in a suit of armor – I mean it’s just so cool,” Marsden said.

“And I love Malta because my wife is Maltese and the set is already there – it’s the island. So that is my dream to do that. It would be excellent. And I’d love Mel Gibson to direct it.”

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