Skip to comments.Why 'Dukes of Hazzard' Star John Schneider Made 2 Pro-Life Films Practically Simultaneously
Posted on 04/01/2012 6:44:14 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The actor, who made Bo Duke a household name in the 1980's and stars in the just-released "October Baby," discusses anti-Christian bigotry, Johnny Cash, Bill Maher and why he was fired from a directing job.
October Baby, a movie with a miniscule marketing budget and controversial (at least in Hollywood) for its pro-life message surprised the industry with a $4,300 per-screen opening last weekend at 390 theaters. The movie stars former Dukes of Hazzard heartthrob and practicing Christian John Schneider, who also stars in another film with a similar theme called Doonby, set for a summer release. The Hollywood Reporters Paul Bond caught up to Schneider on the set of TV Lands Happily Divorced to ask him: whats up with all the anti-abortion message movies?
The Hollywood Reporter: Why two pro-life films at once? John Schneider: Well, the people behind them are pro life, but I dont know if the movies are. October Baby is about an 18-year-old forgiving a woman who tried to terminate her. Its interesting, October Baby is about a person who shouldnt be and who is, and Doonby is about a person who should be but isnt. Doonby is more of a Twilight Zone take. Its a film about making decisions and living with them. Its actually Its a Wonderful Life inverted. Neither movie is coming out and pointing a finger and saying, You terrible pro-choice people are going to Hell!
THR: Are you pro life?
Schneider: I am until somebody offers up an argument that filters through my current belief system and changes my mind. My mind has been changed on many things. Not on that, but I dont believe in forcing my beliefs on someone else.
THR: Is it tough being pro-life in Hollywood?
Schneider: If its tough believing what you believe, then maybe its time to move. But if you are someone who militantly enforces your opinion about anything, then you need to get out of town.
THR: Who are the militant people doing that?
Schneider: Theyre the ones throwing red paint at peoples fur, or bombing abortion clinics, or calling pro-life people ignorant. Theyre people threatening those who dont support gay marriage, or threatening those who do support it. I cant imagine somebody feeling that their relationship with their creator whoever he or she may be is so solid that they have time to get into my shit about my belief system.
THR: What other views do you have that go against the grain in Hollywood?
Schneider: Honestly, I dont pay that much attention. Im a good dad and a fair husband and I work quite a bit. That takes up a fair amount of time.
THR: What do you do when discussions of politics or faith come up on the set and someone wants to impose his or her view?
Schneider: I usually kind of get quiet. You can tell if someone is about social intercourse or just about browbeating somebody with their opinion. Its no fun arguing with a closed-minded person.
THR: Can you name names? Who are these close-minded people?
Schneider: God no. I will not point a finger -- not to protect myself -- but because its not right.
THR: Then give me an example of a political discussion with an open-minded person in Hollywood.
Schneider: I had Bill Maher say to me several times on Politically Incorrect, you know, I never thought of it like that, and he thanked me for that. And I said to him the same thing on occasions.
THR: Name one time when Bill Maher said that to you.
Schneider: When Colin Powell said he wasnt running for president because his wife said he shouldnt. Bill tabled it saying, what kind of a man is that? I said, hang on, you marry a woman not only because you love her and shes kind of cute, but also because that person is your most trusted adviser. Its not that she doesnt want him to be president because she wants him home to take out the trash. Theres more to it than that, and if you dont have a ring on your finger then you dont know what the hell Im talking about, so shut up! And he said, Okay!
THR: Rumor has it Johnny Cash encouraged you to become a born-again Christian?
Schneider: I was a Christian when I lived with Johnny and June, and he solidified my belief system. He was a manly person who believed in Jesus. He was not an emasculated Christian. He was a rough guy held together by his belief in God and his love for his wife. Theres never a bad time to see that example.
THR: Is there anti-Christian bigotry in Hollywood?
Schneider: Sure, theres Christian bigotry. Theres also Democrat bigotry, Republican bigotry, straight bigotry and homosexual bigotry. Theres a lot of people here.
THR: Give me an anecdote of bigotry youve experienced.
Schneider: I was in a makeup trailer talking to the executive producer -- the boss of the show and I said that one of the reasons I moved to the Agoura area was to find a Christian school, because I didnt want my kids to be taught that evolution is the only possible answer to how we got here. And I lost my directing job because of that statement. That person said, thats terrible, we cant have your perspective Alls I said was I wanted both perspectives. Its all I said.
THR: Who was that executive producer?
Schneider: Im not telling you, Paul.
THR: Are you worried about being typecast in message movies?
Schneider: When you boil it down, most movies are message movies. And I think careers are made in message movies. My god, Meryl Streep made a career out of message movies and theres no better actress on the planet.
THR: Are Christian movies just preaching to the choir?
Schneider: Maybe they were until October Baby. It didnt get into the Top 5 per-screen because churches went to see it. Secular people think all that Christian moviemakers have to do is send out an email and all the churches in the nation will see it. Thats absolute bullshit. I was out promoting October Baby on Fox News, the Today show, on VH1 and all kinds of stuff, and I think thats what helped get people into the theaters. Its not churches making October Baby the phenomenon that it is.
THR: Whats it like being a former teen idol.
Schneider: It was great. And, Paul, the coolest thing is happening now. Theres a whole new passel of 7-year-olds who are huge Dukes of Hazzard fans because its still running on CMT. I was just in Rochester doing a car show, and a 7-year-old came up to me to meet Bo Duke, and he said he was Bo for Halloween. I signed a number of Pinewood Derby cars then, too.
THR: Do girls who grew up watching you still swoon when they see you?
Schneider: They do, but they have to be careful because they have bad knees now. I still sign copies of Tiger Beat magazine. The girls who were 16 then still have a special place in their hearts for Bo, as does Bo for them.
THR: You see the South Park parody of Dukes?
Schneider: My son showed it to me. It was great. And I saw the Family Guy episode where they paint the station wagon orange and paint a '01' on the door. Dukes is an amazing piece of history now. Its still on TV 34 years later and kids still dress up like Bo, Luke and Daisy, and local officials still tell me they have somebody in their town thats just like Boss Hogg.
THR: Would a new show as quaint as Dukes work today?
Schneider: If its honest, like Doonby and October Baby are. Yes, Dukes was corny, but underneath all the corn was Denver Pyle as Uncle Jesse telling the boys that they were never to do anything to insult or harm another person. Sure, wed jump cars and all that, but morally and ethically Dukes was and still is sound. We would never go out and force our perspective on others, but if you insulted a girl, Bo would hit you and I probably would, too. I believe you should be a gentleman, and thats old-fashioned. The characters I play in Doonby and October Baby also believe that. They live by a code of ethics.
THR: You still see Catherine Bach and Tom Wopat?
Schneider: I see Catherine a lot because she lives out here, and Tom and I are doing a number of concerts together in Niagara on the Canadian side. Its one of those weird relationships with Tom. We were best friends from hello and remain so after 34 years.
THR: What happened to your FaithWorks production company?
Schneider: It lasted a year and a half. I thought alls people had to know was that there was a great avenue for family-friendly videos and people would show up. I was wrong. Yep. You actually have to promote, and thats hard to do and it gets more expensive every day.
THR: You helped create the Childrens Miracle Network charity.
Schneider. That I did, with Marie Osmond, Mick Shannon and Joe Lake. We are about to turn 30 and weve raised $5 billion for childrens hospitals in North America, and Im very proud of that. It has saved lives. Its an inarguable truth that children deserve good health care regardless of their families ability to pay.
THR: You ready to endorse someone for president?
Schneider: No. People have come to me for my opinion since October Baby. But, hey, look, Im an actor who is very fortunate to be in a movie thats making wonderful noise, and hopefully helping parents and children to be a little closer. Leave me alone. Im not talking about politics. Im just trying to have a conversation with my own kids.
THR: What do you think of the buzz and per-screen results of October Baby?
Schneider: Selfishly, Im very excited. I do lots of work and always try to do my best, but I never know whats going to happen. So far with the movies Ive done it has been kind of nothing. Theyve been entertaining for those who have seen them, but I never did a movie that people have wanted to talk about until now. That sounds very sad.
THR: What did you think of the Dukes of Hazzard movie?
Schneider: The only thing they got right was the color of the car.
Gotta love it.
Can’t wait to see “October Baby.”
Back when I was a kid and Dukes was still in prime time I saw him at a restaurant at Disney World. I summoned up the courage and (not understanding privacy at that age) approached his table for his autograph. I remember to this day how nice he was about it and even engaged me in some small talk.
Very down-to-earth guy back then, and now, it would appear.
And that was only because a local woman personally guaranteed the operator a thousand tickets would be sold and she would make up the difference if it didn't.
I don't know how that turned out but I would say there were about 50 people at the showing we went to.
And that was the 11:00 a.m. showing on a weekday.
Hopefully, she didn't have to shell out any money but at the very least I'm sure she has stored up treasures in heaven for herself.
Great movie. Go see it.
Saw it last week. It was a great movie.
But yet thats all they seem to have time for.......
I loved this movie.
Gee and I would have though it was just because he can’t act.
I believe he’s involved in charity work for disabled children. One of our choir members back in Texas got to know him through benefits for ...whatever it was, exactly.
John is a GREAT actor.
What is the plot?
Oh, I see.
He was great in The Dukes of Hazzard and in Smallville.
Plot? October BAby is about a young lady who finds out accidentally (because she has a health crisis) that she is 1) adopted 2) survivor of a failed abortion 3)the surviving sister of a set of twins (brother died as a result of the abortion. The plot is about her attempts to find her birth mother and to put order in her own life and how this action affects those around her — adoptive parents, friends, birth mother, etc.
The plot is not really about abortion. That is just the vehicle through which this story is told. The story is really about growing up, love, forgiveness, helping those in need, caring for your neighbor, unforseen consequences of your actions, etc. It’s an unusual coming of age story.
October Baby Trailer
This movie is based on a true story.
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