“If you’ve ever faced adversity and wondered if God was big enough to see you through it, this is your film,” says Pure Flix CEO Michael Scott.
The Source sat down and caught up with actor Taylor James to talk about his new film based on one of the most classic Bible heroes of all time. You might recognize James from his other projects such as Blitz for Lionsgate, Mamma Mia for Universal, Christmas Eve for Unstuck, Justice League for Warner Bros. and much more. Homie has been putting in work, but this new film promises to push him to the next level.
Taylor plays the main character in the biblical epic film Samson from Pure Flix, the world’s leading independent faith and family studio. Action packed and very powerful, this film depicts the story of a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel. With his supernatural strengths and impulsive decisions, Samson finds himself against the oppressive Philistine empire. As viewers you’ll experience the trials and tribulations of this young man gifted with such a powerful task. On his journey Samson experienced betrayal by those he loved, imprisonment, blindness, as well as gaining enemies. And in the end when his back was up against the wall he called on the one person that has always been there for him, God.
The Source: Hi Taylor! First and foremost, congratulations on the landing the role as Samson, that’s a big deal. Ok, so let’s get right to it. What was it like playing such a powerful character like Samson and how did you prepare for the role?
Taylor: Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. First thing, it was an honor to be selected for the role, which is prestigious because Samson’s journey is one of great diversity. He has a huge range of emotions, a big change in physicality, challenges, struggles, the lessons that he needs to learn in order to fulfill his journey, his story and with the wealth of that is usually powerful and challenging but it’s extremely rewarding as an actor. It was a joy to have that opportunity. The fundamental preparation I did was the reading and watching of material that is available out there in relation to his story. But on an emotional level I suppose I had to find something that I really connected with him and from there we built a relationship between Taylor and Samson.
Did you have to go through any changes for the role of Samson? (Physical, mental, etc.)
It’s quite funny, because a few years ago I just had this vision and I decided to grow my hair and I’ve always looked after myself in the gym and maintained some sort of mind, body, and physical connection. So I am no stranger to the gym. I did look at how I could use what I have to compliment Samson as a character, so physically there was not a huge transformation, it was more uniting the things that Taylor does as a person with the things Samson does. I felt that I could manipulate and tweak those all to support Samson’s physical appearances. I wanted Samson to be lean, and questionable to where he got his strengths from.
So Taylor, tell me, what can the viewers expect from the film?
There are your typical cinematic things, the action, drama, conflict and human emotion and the struggle which is probably the thing that leads to a deeper empathy and understanding for Samson and his journey. I hope that people are surprised about the story, because what we know from Judges 13-16, it’s quite relatively small. You can read it in 10 minutes. So to flush that out and to build a whole world and expand on characters is exciting. I think people will be surprised at our embellishment of the story.
For a film that is so action packed what was your favorite scene and why?
My favorite scene differs depending on where I am in terms of self reflection and memories. But I suppose the main scene that resonates most with me, would be right at the end of the film. We called it the Gaza pit sequence. It’s when Samson is in the jails. He’s had his eyes burned out, he is weak, and he doesn’t have his strength. Spoiler Alert: but he’s lost his father, his love, absolutely everything. To me that part of the film is extremely powerful in the film but also on the day that myself and Greg who plays my brother Caleb in the film. We remained in character and were in shackles and pretty much stripped down to nothing from sun up to sun down that day. We both experienced a wonderful bonding connection together as two vulnerable actors.
Wow! Well getting a little deeper, was there anything that you learned about yourself personally, like certain strengths and attributes that you didn’t know that you had before while filming?
I learned or rather I was reminded of how fortunate I am to do what I love and to be surrounded by people who are of similar ilk. They are working on something that they are passionate about. It only brings out the best in humans, and I have such fond memories of the three four months we spent filming in total, and the one thing that surprises me is to never take that for granted and to always strive for that. As I said, doing what you love in life is wonderful and being surrounded by that love is wonderful as well.
Do you feel like Samson is relevant to today?
Most of the story is one of power. Essentially how he had it, lost it and then regained it. I think that is pertinent to our audiences today for sure. Things such as loyalty, honor, temptation, vulnerability, and consequences of our choices we face. It’s prevalent in all of us really. A good story is timeless regardless of the genre that it is set in.
How did you find balance between biblical authenticity and telling a good story on film?
When we’re telling a story, we have the artistic license to push that time and expand and fill that time. Part of that expansion is building the world, stretching out the characters, and relationship; seeing other people’s view points and not just Samson’s, but his mother, father, brother and Delilah. I think that creates more conflict and drama, which makes for a more detailed story.
This isn’t your first time on the big screen. How was this role different from your previous characters?
I think on the surface, the magnitude of Samson, being a lead character is always going to be the main thing that I focus on. It’s not the size of the role, but the depth of which I am allowed to explore into the character. To play someone as big as Samson, not just physically and also on a platform that is going to reach audiences beyond my hopes, dreams and expectations, that is exciting.
Ok well we’ve reached the end of the interview. So for our last question, what can we expect from Taylor James in the future?
[Laughter] I have this huge passion to inspire others to being the best version of themselves, pertaining that to art and storytelling, you know the power of reflection and connection is amazing and I just want to keep doing that to the best of my ability. Plus I hope a lot more action because I love action!
Samson hits theaters February 16th, 2018. To see trailer view video below