With Advent a few weeks away, Father Dave welcomes the writer and director of the new Christmas movie-musical “Journey to Bethlehem” hitting theaters Friday! Adam Anders is a four-time Grammy Award nominee and two-time People’s Choice Award winner who spent many years as the executive music producer of the TV show “Glee.” His film “Journey to Bethlehem” retells the story of the Nativity through song and stars Fiona Palomo, Milo Manheim, and Antonio Banderas.
Adam explains his inspiration for the movie. “Seventeen years ago, I was visiting my wife’s family in Iowa at Christmastime, and I couldn’t find a musical to watch. I was like, ‘Why has nobody done this?’ It’s so obvious,” he says. “I had this idea of the Nativity as a musical and I sat down and wrote an 11-page treatment of this movie.”
“The dream first happened, and then I think God was like, ‘Hold on, you don’t know how to make a movie,’” Adam continues. “I spent the next 17 years in training, working [in Hollywood]. Then [God] turned off the pause button in 2020 and I had six months with nothing else to do. I think I cracked it and here we are.”
Father Dave highlights how Adam personally maintained his faith in a secular environment. He says, “A lot of people we’ve talked to in the entertainment world sometimes struggle with that. It seems you’ve been able to be very successful, hold on to your faith, and now really want to produce something that will allow a brand new audience to hear this story.”
Adam responds, “I’ve never hidden my faith; I am who I am. I think at the end of the day, if you do good work, you try to strive for excellence, you show up on time, and you’re not a total jerk to work with – that’s a pretty good ministry, I would say…You feel like you’re an island as a Christian sometimes in Hollywood, but it’s just been 20 years of building relationships and trust with people.”
They discuss that while most people know the story of the Nativity, the movie offers something new. “I think there’s something for everyone. For Christians who know the story and are believers, we know how it ends, but you’ve never seen it told this way,” Adam says, describing the music and depth of characters. “But then for people who don’t know what Christmas is about, they’re like, ‘This is cool, it’s all new.’ I didn’t make it for Christians, I made it for everyone.”
Adam discusses some casting choices for the film, including choosing Antonio Banderas to be King Herod. “I had [Banderas] on the top of my list for Herod for three years, and it was a long shot; I’m a first time director,” Adam says. He describes how Antonio was interested in the role, but had a scheduling issue while directing and starring in a play. “I asked [Antonio’s manager], ‘Where’s he doing this play?’ and he said, ‘Madrid, Spain.’ Well, I had just moved to Madrid, Spain to prep this movie. That’s not a coincidence.” Adam recalls going to Antonio’s play multiple nights in an effort to persuade him and ultimately cast him as Herod.
Adam describes the movie’s portrayal of Mary and Joseph’s love story. “It’s the original Romeo and Juliet when you think about it. They shouldn’t have been together; He should have left her;, she should have been stoned,” he says. “They surely shouldn’t have married, he shouldn’t have taken the child as his own. He shouldn’t have taken the stain upon him and his lineage, but he did. We know they stayed together because the Bible says that, but we don’t know how they got there, or if it was for love or for duty. So [I wanted to] explore that; that’s really interesting to me. Milo [Manheim] and Fiona [Palomo] are just amazing, their chemistry. They did a phenomenal job portraying that relationship.”
“Journey to Bethlehem” opens in theaters tomorrow, November 10, and you can find tickets in your area here.