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‘Lord of the Rings’ Actor Opens Up About His Christian Faith

Billy Hallowell

Actor Sean Astin has had a long-standing career in Hollywood. From starring as Mikey in “The Goonies” to his role as Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, he has entertained and inspired audiences for decades. In a new interview with Beliefnet’s John W. Kennedy, Astin recently discussed his career, his faith and a Christian movie he recently filmed called “Mom’s Night Out.”

It may come as a surprise to some that Astin, who has said in the past that he doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, is religious. But a close look at his career and his public comments corroborate this very fact. In his discussion with Kennedy, Astin described his faith journey in detail and didn’t hesitate to call himself a faithful Christian.

He detailed his fascinating faith journey — one that encapsulated experiences with Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, agnosticism and Protestantism (they all touched him in some way). Today, Astin is a Lutheran, having been officially baptized along with his wife at a church in Indiana. But growing up, his stepfather, actor John Astin, was a Buddhist and his birth father was Jewish.

Actor Sean Astin attends ‘The Walking Dead’ 10th Anniversary Celebration Event during Comic-Con 2013 on July 19, 2013 in San Diego, Calif. (Getty Images)

Beyond that, his mother, actress Patty Duke, is a Catholic — at least nominally. When Kennedy asked about this dynamic, the entertainer was candid:

Well, it depends on when you ask her and who you ask. I think today she would probably consider herself a Catholic. She’s had a really kind of tortured relationship [with the Church]. I [remember] when my sister died. There’s this group of nuns that lived in a convent nearby. She insisted that they be there. So, you know, when you talk about self identifying versus how people practice versus the culture versus all these kinds of things I think my mom is a feels very comfortable with her Catholicism.”

In a previous interview with Sherry Huang (also published on Beliefnet), Astin was asked about his favorite prayer. He cited a Democratic National Committee member named Ron Dugger, who had once set up a meeting between the actor and then-Sen. John Kerry at a time during which Astin was politically active.

“There’s a guy named Rob Dugger who was a very senior member of the Democratic National Committee. [A]fter I’d met with John Kerry, [Rob had] arranged a meeting and this [was] at the height of my trying to grapple with what I was able to accomplish–and not–on a political level,” Astin told Huang. “We just had this conversation, and I asked him that question. [H]e said every morning he wakes up and he says a prayer, ‘Allow me to be an instrument of Your will.'”

Astin said the prayer really resonated with him and that he has uttered it “a few thousand times” since first hearing it.

It seems the actor has put his money where his mouth is, too. While he generally doesn’t shout his faith from mountaintops, Astin actively participates in projects, both in the faith and Hollywood realms, that tout positive, Christian values.

Actor Sean Astin is seen prior to the start of the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon on Sunday morning May 19, 2013, in Fredericksburg, Va. Astin was an official starter and ran the event. (AP)

Consider the fact that he provided the voice of Matthew in the “Truth and Life Dramatized Audio New Testament” a few years back. Catholic Online described the project as “a dramatic and powerful audio recording of the Bible that brings the Word to life using the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (RSV-CE) text.”

“For people who care about the Bible as revealed truth, this is a gateway to make it accessible to them and I’m proud to be associated with that,” he told the outlet of the project.

Astin also shared a personal story in the 2011 interview, showcasing the importance that the Bible — and this particular project — have in his own life:

“The other day I was with my daughter and she has a middle school chapel service. When she got out, I was asking her questions about the passages they were looking at. At first she couldn’t remember so I downloaded a Bible program onto my iPhone and we were scrolling through it, just riding in the car!

“If you pass muster and people make it to a second CD, you know it’s really important to them. When anyone is listening, you are purveying revealed truth to people and it carries a real responsibility. You have to decide whether you want to do that whether you want participate in that.

“I don’t actually walk around wearing my faith on my sleeve or anything but I went to Catholic school for three years. You get to certain passages about the Last Supper or the Crucifixion and I’ve heard them a lot in church and they were spoken by a priest.

“And now the words that were being uttered by a priest to a congregation are coming through my eyes and sound! These massive ideas are being poured out and it gives you goose bumps sometimes. You’re portraying revealed truth!”

A screen shot from “Mom’s Night Out” website

All this considered, his new movie, too, is faith-based in nature. “Mom’s Night Out” is described as “an endearing, true-to-life family comedy.” It centers upon a few mothers who want to go out for an evening of fun. With their husbands left to care for the kids, chaos and comedy unfold.

The film, set to be released in 2014, is produced by Andrew and Jon Erwin, the filmmaking brothers who also brought forth the successful pro-life movie “October Baby.” For more about Astin, be sure to visit his official website.

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