The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C. S. Lewis,a new film tracing the spiritual journey of renowned author of The Chronicles of Narnia, releases in theatres nationwide this November.
Directed by double Emmy and double BAFTA Award-winning filmmaker Norman Stone (BBC’s Shadowlands, The Narnia Code), the biopic stars acclaimed theatre actor Max McLean as a middle-aged Lewis looking back on the events that moved him from vigorous debunker of Christianity to become the most influential Christian writer of the past century.
Nicholas Ralph, star of the PBS Masterpiece hit All Creatures Great and Small, plays Lewis as a young man who has a terrible relationship with his father and goes off to the trenches in the Great War before becoming a professor at Oxford University. The film introduces Eddie Ray Martin as the childhood Lewis, who loses his mother to cancer and then renounces his faith.
The Most Reluctant Convert explores the impact friends such as J.R.R. Tolkien (played by Tom Glenister, Doc Martin, Vera), Hugo Dyson (played by David Shields, The Crown, Doctor Who) and Owen Barfield (played by Hubert Barton, Jekyll & Hyde, Deep Blue Sea) had on the dedicated atheist who was forced to question his own disbelief. The Most Reluctant Convert is a ringside seat as one of 20th century’s great thinkers battles with himself and ultimately finds faith.
It was filmed in 18 locations in and around Oxford, England, with an impressive roster of filmmaking talent that includes cinematographer Sam Heasman (Doctor Who, Next of Kin, Britannia, Vera), composer Craig Armstrong (Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby, Snowdon, Bridget Jones’ Baby) and production designer Roger Murray-Leach (Local Hero, A Fish Called Wanda, Fierce Creatures). The executive producers areMatthew Jenkins (Murder on the Orient Express) and Ken Denison (The Lion King – Broadway).
The seventeen-member cast includes David Gant (W.T. Kilpatrick), Richard Harrington (Albert Lewis), Amy Alexander (Flora Lewis), and Michael Ward (The Vicar). The production includes 190 extras and 270 costumes designed by Poli Kyriacou (Downtown Abbey – Asst. Costume Designer). Makeup designed by Nicole Stafford (TheDeath of Stalin).
At age 19, Lewis witnessed first-hand the waste of life in the trenches of France during World War I, concluding that “either there was no god behind the universe, a god who is indifferent to good and evil, or worse, an evil god.” Yet, Lewis could not accept the materialist view that meaning, rationality or purpose were just the accidental results of physics and biochemistry. As a 16-year-old, he had picked up a copy of George MacDonald’s Phantastes, which he said “baptized my imagination.” MacDonald, along with G.K. Chesterton and the influence of his robust group of young scholars such as Tolkien, Barfield, and Dyson, moved him further up the theistic path until he finally “admitted that God was God, knelt and prayed, perhaps the most dejected, reluctant convert in all England.”
The film is based on the hit U.S. play C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert. Adapted by and starring McLean (Mark’s Gospel – Jeff Award, Screwtape). Before the pandemic, it has been performed 287 times in 64 cities and on college campuses since its 2016 premiere. With extended runs in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., The Most Reluctant Convert has been seen by over 106,000 people. The play and the film are based primarily on Lewis’ memoir, Surprised by Joy, and which is licensed from The C.S. Lewis Company.
Worldwide, Lewis books have sold nearly a quarter of a billion copies.
“This story has a remarkable ability to engage audiences regardless of their religious belief,” McLean said. “Lewis applied his formidable and self-deprecating wit to engage audiences about his own trying and painful experiences.”
The film is distributed by Fellowship for Performing Arts in association with Aspiration Entertainment and Trafalgar Releasing.