When Angus T. Jones recorded his interview with Christopher Hudson, the leader of the Forerunner Chronicles Christian group, he may well not have expected the reaction that he got. The star of the Two and a Half Men sitcom denounced the show as “filth” and urged viewers to stop watching it. Presumably not quite the marketing plan that the show’s executives had in mind (though as we know, these bouts of ‘technically bad’ publicity have a habit of working in your favour) but Angus was keen to share all that he had learned since turning to religion.
In the interview clip, Angus speaks to Hudson as though he is some form of demi-god and looks thrilled to even be in the same room as him, reaching out to touch him as though he can’t believe he’s real. As he very publicly looked a very generous gift horse in the mouth (He earns a reported $350,000 per episode. Yes, per episode), the world winced and cowered away, sniggering. Within hours of the video clip hitting the internet, it had gone viral and the 19 year-old had quickly become a laughing stock.
What exactly was Jones’ biggest crime though? Dissing his employers? Undermining the very thing that gave him the wealth and privilege that he’s able to enjoy? Or was it all the nutty, slightly alarming religious stuff that he was spouting for the majority of the interview? If he’d just said “Two and a Half Men is cr*p,” would we have cared quite as much? Would the story have run quite as far and quite as wide as it did? If there wasn’t that cringe-worthy explanation of why he went on the hunt for a church with a “black gospel theme,” would this all have mattered so much? If he hadn’t starting aligning light entertainment with the devil, because of his newfound religious beliefs? Of course not.
Watch Angus T. Jones' interview
Through this Angus T. Jones debacle, we have learned that when it comes to matters of religion in Hollywood and the acting profession, you really are best off cracking a smile and keeping your beliefs to yourself. We’re not sure that anything good ever came of mixing religion and a life in front of the camera. Angus isn’t the first to have ostracised himself in the acting world, after finding religion, or deciding to share his views with the world.
Let’s take a look at Mel Gibson, for example. He’s a Catholic. He was raised a Catholic. He married a woman who is a devout follower of the Church of England. That’s a pretty traditional starting point, right? Not anywhere near as extreme and cult-ish as the Forerunner Chronicles, right? Wrong. Mel Gibson has been kicking up religious dust for years. If he’s not making anti-semitic remarks, he’s making anti-Semitic movies, channelling his beliefs through his film and making people mad whilst he’s at it.
Remember The Passion of the Christ? Gibson got the Christian world into a furore with that one, with many arguing that it represented a very selective reading of the Gospels. Oh and remember that time he decided to do an interview with Good Morning America and explain away his drunken anti-Jewish comments when he got arrested for DUI? When asked if he thought the words “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” were anti-Semitic words, his answer, bafflingly, was “no, I don’t think so.”
Watch some of Mel Gibson's Good Morning America interview, 2006
Then, earlier this year, Gibson suffered a public shaming episode, when he fell out with the screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who accused Gibson of shelving his script for a movie about the Jewish hero Judah Maccabee “because you hate Jews.” Which begs the question ‘why on earth was Mel Gibson working on the movie in the first place,’ but the evidence stacked against him really didn’t put the guy in a good light.
The lesson that Hollywood should be starting to learn is that you keep your mouth shut and you play your cards very close to your chest. Or you’ll become a laughing stock. Though frankly it’s still possible to become a laughing stock, even if you have the entire pack of playing cards strapped so tightly to your chest that it’s restricting your regular breathing patterns. Take Tom Cruise, for example. Do you remember when Tom Cruise was one of the most highly-respected actors in Hollywood? Rather than simply one of the highest paid? Before he found Scientology? Or Scientology found him? Remember when we used to think of Tom Cruise as anything other than a closet homosexual (ok, so we have the South Park “Tom Cruise, get out of the closet” skit to thank for that one) jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa, making an eye-boggling fool of himself? And whilst we’re on the matter of well-known Scientologists, do you remember when we thought of John Travolta as anything other than a closet homosexual…. etc etc, etc…? Neither of them go around screaming wildly about their religion. But both are widely regarded as being a little bit nuts because of it.
Just in case you DIDN'T think Tom Cruise was a laughing stock... proof that he really is:
Budding actors, let this be a warning to you. If you have an inkling that your religious beliefs maybe any more extreme than your general “love thy neighbour, do to others as you would have done unto thyself” kinda stuff, then you probably need to keep a tight reign on your opinions. No matter how rich, or powerful, or heterosexual you may be. Unless you’re a confident atheist, like Angelina Jolie. Or Bruce Willis. Or John Malkovich. The cool gang.