Los Angeles • Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback who is now preparing for his fourth season as a minor league baseball player, knows that being a good Christian doesn’t solve everything.
Even while watching Christian movies growing up, Tebow had doubts when the main character started to pray and suddenly everything “was perfect”.
“It’s not real life,” he said. “Life is not easy.”
As executive producers of the new “Run the Race” movie, Tebow and his brother Robby wanted to create the kind of movie – and the Christian life – he dreamed of seeing instead: a movie that isn’t perfect, but genuine.
“Run the Race,” the story of two high school brothers trying to overcome the death of their mother and abandonment of their father, stays close to the power of brotherly love and sport. Zach Truett, played by Tanner Stine, works for a college football scholarship, but after getting injured he fears he’ll never get out of his small town.
Not wanting to give up on their dream, her brother, Dave, tries to save the future of the two brothers by getting his own scholarship on track.
The characters, especially Zach, also spend a lot of time struggling and asking questions about their faith – questions that many people involved in the film, including true Christians Stine and Tebow, have been asking themselves.
“We all go through our own journey of faith. You ask the questions and you wonder why, ”Tebow told Religion News Service. “Even in your stockings God loves you and he is chasing you and he wants to know you and support you and he has done his best for you.”
Jake McEntire, who wrote the original script, was in one of those stockings. At that time, he had been working on the screenplay for almost a decade. “I remember being in class in 2004, just freehand writing this stuff,” McEntire said.
He rewrote it several times over the years, then made a “concept” trailer hoping it would draw more people to the project. McEntire said he prayed several times, asking God if he should give up or if he wanted him to continue.
“I just felt like it was a call that God gave me in my heart to go and tell this story,” he said.
It’s one of those days of prayer and questioning about whether to continue that the Tebows have called, he said.
Trey Brunson, who met McEntire at the University of Dallas, met Robby Tebow as a pastor in Florida. Six years ago Brunson, now an executive producer himself, showed the trailer to Robby, who showed it to Tim. The Tebow brothers then asked to read the full script.
It was by reading the script, said Tim Tebow, that he pushed to enter the film industry. A popular speaker, he said McEntire’s power of storytelling impressed him how limited his appearances were compared to the movies.
“It’s just another way to encourage people,” said Tebow, who supported the film with the press and on social media. “Why not use this avenue for good too?” “
Although McEntire has now asked Tebow to get by in sports, the writer said much of the film is taken from his own sports experience.
McEntire had a scholarship to play college football before tearing his ACL and his dream of a football career flew away. The movie’s mother is based on the mother of a friend who died of breast cancer.
“I kind of picked out what happened to me, my brothers and my best friends, the good and the bad,” he said, “and put it all into one story. “
Even McEntire’s relationship with his wife has been used to create a storyline that isn’t Hollywood’s usual teenage romance.
McEntire knew he wanted to marry his wife three days after meeting her, which he immediately told his brothers. Six months later, he bought a ring, but he continued to pray for another six months.
“I was like, ‘Lord, if you want me to marry this girl, I will. But if you don’t want me to marry her, get me out of here,” he said.
They married in April 2007, 16 months after they met. “We were both virgins when we got married, so I wanted to show that purity,” he said. “I wanted to show the kids that it can still happen – you can have that. “
If the film represents Christian values, it’s not a sermon from above – the filmmakers even questioned whether a character should say the name of Jesus, McEntire said.
Once they got to the set, in fact, “Run the Race” became a collaboration. Director Chris Dowling shares screenwriting credit with McEntire and Jason Baumgardner, and Dowling in turn has allowed his actors a lot of flexibility. It was this spirit that convinced veteran actor Mario Van Peebles to take on the role of Pastor Baker, who heads the church in the small town of Truetts.
“I wanted to play this character because there were things I wanted to say,” Van Peebles said. “Some of what you see in the film is improvised. “
While there is a lot about Christianity in “Run the Race,” Dowling said it touches on experiences that many people can relate to, including the director himself, whose father left his home. family when Dowling was young.
“As humans we all want the same thing,” Dowling said. “We want to know that we have a purpose, we want to feel loved, we want the best for our children.”
Tebow hopes people see what he says is the reality of trusting God.
“You don’t want to trick people or trick people into telling them that life is suddenly going to be perfect. I never said it would be perfect or easy – it’s worth it, ”he said.
“Run the Race” will be in theaters on Friday (February 22).