Alex Kendrick on ‘Courageous Legacy,’ Fatherhood, and Faith (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell11 Minutes

John Farrell: Can you tell me a little bit about Courageous Legacy and what’s different between this version of the movie and the original version?

Alex Kendrick: About a year ago, we realized we were coming up on the 10th Anniversary of when Courageous was released in theaters. It was released in the fall of 2011. We were thinking, ‘It’s already been a decade. That’s crazy.’ Then we got to talking about the fact that the truths that we present in the movie are, of course, just as applicable today as they were a decade ago. So, we started thinking, ‘Is there any way that we could present Courageous in a fresh way to this new generation of parents and fathers that didn’t have children a decade ago and would probably watch the movie very differently now that they have their own kids?’

We began praying about what we could do. We came up with this idea to re-release the movie. Then, of course, as time goes by, filmmakers always say, “I wish I had more time to change this about the movie or add this.” So, we began a conversation about what we would change about Courageous if we could?

We called Sony and talked to them about it. We came up with this concept of revisiting where the characters left off except you get to see where they are today – ten years later. What would have happened to these fathers and their kids and families ten years later? We got really excited about the opportunity to do that.

We got the cast and crew back together and filmed some new scenes that take place at the end of the film. In other words, when you watch Courageous Legacy — we added the word legacy to differentiate this version of the movie — you’re literally going to see the actors and their kids age ten years by the end of the film.

We were also able to put in some twists that we’re really excited about. We re-edited the movie so it moves a little faster now. And then we added some deleted scenes that we really liked back into the movie that weren’t originally in there. We recolored the movie so the color spectrum is going to look a little bit different from the last one – it looks more fresh and modern. We added some music and special effects, and then we added the brand-new ending to the movie.

When we did some screenings of it to an audience that had already seen Courageous, they loved it. They were like, “There’s so much in this movie that’s different and fresh. It even moves at a different speed. It’s like something that’s familiar to you, but still fresh.”

They loved the twist and the new ending where you literally see the actors age ten years. I’ve never seen that in a movie before. At least not without prosthetics, makeup, and special effects. But in this one, we literally are ten years older by the end of the film. We reshot it, put it together, and did some screenings to see if it worked, and they gave it a standing ovation at the end. They said it was so fun to revisit the movie in a fresh way.

We’re really excited about it. Mostly we’re excited because we have this new generation of people, a new generation of fathers over the last decade that have had their kids that are going to watch this differently. We can’t wait to see what happens with it.

JF: Is there a particular scene, from the original version or this version, that you love to watch over and over and would consider your favorite?

Alex: The answer is yes, but I have to break that down into categories. What I mean by that is, for example, there’s a lot of humor in Courageous, but my favorite scene is with the Snake King in the back seat of the police car. We revisit that in this new version. We revisit it in a fresh way at the end of the film, and you realize that the character Javier still does that sometimes. That was fun humor-wise.

As far as inspiration-wise, I like it when the men get together and agree to take the resolution together. They’re standing with their families and committing to these biblical principles in their lives. I love that they’re doing that.

As far as touching, I think when my character does his side of the dance for his daughter. When he asks God if He would tell his daughter that he did his side of the dance for her when originally he was too embarrassed to do it. That’s touching for me.

I love when the parents connect with their kids. There’s a scene where my character’s running and jogging with my son, and I stop to have a talk with him. Those moments that really are taken out of our real lives – those are the kinds of conversations we’ve really had with our kids – are very meaningful for us.

I have to break it down into those types of categories to answer the question, but there’s a lot of our personal lives in these films.

Drawing Inspiration from Real Life

JF: That actually leads me into my next question. Since you wrote, directed, and starred in the film, a lot of it probably was taken directly from yours and your brothers’ life. How much of the film was based on true events and were all five main characters based on people you know?

Alex: I first would say when the Lord gives us a theme and we start pursuing that theme and the elements are coming together, we always look for real-life inspiration for our characters. I wouldn’t say Courageous is based on a particular person, but I will say Courageous, like many of our other films, is an amalgam of real experiences and real characters that we know in our lives.

It’s also inspired by what the Lord is doing in our hearts at the time. The Lord was working on me as a dad in certain respects to lead my family spiritually. And that comes out in the film. My brothers as well. In that stage of life, when we asked God to guide us, we draw upon what He’s actually doing in our hearts and wives and families. That’s a lot of the inspiration for what the characters go through.

JF: Obviously, you and your brothers have done other movies in the past like Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof, just to name a few. I don’t remember you ever doing a ten-year anniversary release before. Is this the first time you’ve re-released a film? If so, why this movie?

Alex: This is the first time we’ve done it, and this is what I would say. Our first movie, Flywheel, while I loved the story, we shot that in standard definition. I don’t even know how we would shoot new scenes for that one unless we just reshot the movie.

Facing the Giants, even though it’s technically high definition, we shot it in 720p. When you think about the quality, everything we shoot today is in 4k. So, it’s over four times the resolution. Facing the Giants still works. It’s clear enough and quality enough to work. I guess what we could do is re-release them with new features and as an anniversary edition.

It’s not impossible that we could do it, but Courageous was the first movie that we shot in 4k and it was theatrical. It looks theatrical. It looks like it’s that type of quality. We said at the 10th anniversary, because the spiritual principles in that movie are so important, “Why don’t we release it back in theaters with these new scenes, spruce it up, and see what happens with it.” If it works, we would pray about doing it with some of our others – maybe War Room and Overcomer as we get to those ten-year dates. But, at the moment, we’re going to focus on Courageous and see what the Lord wants to do with it.

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