Interview: Faith, Hope, and Love movie Actor Robert Krantz on Why Genuine Faith-Based Films Still Matter
Faith, Hope and Love movie robert krantz
Arriving in theaters March 15, the new Faith, Hope and Love movie does an outstanding job with taking relatable, real-world experiences with valuable life lessons and perfectly delivering them with the right touch of humor. It is a heartwarming romantic comedy about two vulnerable, lost souls who have each suffered deep losses and have their guards up, as a result. When they enter a dance contest, their lives connect, and they begin to discover new perspectives on life, love, and faith.
In addition to inspiring and faith-based elements unlike most films of its kind, there are also several well-choreographed dance scenes throughout the movie as well as some serious elements that add a lot of depth to the film. It’s a great film for the entire family!
Robert Krantz is Jimmy Elpidas, Peta Murgatroyd is Faith Turley. Newcomer Natasha Bure as Gia, and veteran actors Corbin Bernsen, Michael Richards, and Ed Asner.
By the end of the film, it was clear to me that the purpose of each character was to portray the situations and setbacks that life itself has, but also to portray the hope that each story can bring.
In one of my most favorite interviews to date, I talked to the Faith, Hope and Love movie writer and star Robert Krantz to discuss the development of the film, what he hopes viewers take away from it, and more.
Makeba: First, tell us a little bit more about the Faith, Hope and Love movie and how did you come up with a concept for it?
Robert: The concept actually came, I swear, I think it was divine intervention. I had written a book called, Falling in Love with Sophia and I was convinced that was going to be the next movie that I made. And one day I was at the gym and I’d finished working out, I went to get something to drink and I got the water. And within five feet of where the water was, I went to sit down and I looked over and there was a group of women taking a dance class and between that waterfowl and that seat, something crossed my mind and I sat down I thought, well, that would be a good idea for a movie. And I literally went home, wrote it on a piece of paper, I kept the piece of paper, I put it up on social media a couple months ago. That was six and a half years ago.
Makeba: Oh, wow.
Robert: And so that’s how it came into my mind. And I was started, the next day we were going on a trip as a family and my son Nicholas was next to me and I started writing and writing, he said,” what are you doing dad?” I said I got this idea and I could not get the idea out of my head even though I had the screenplay, the book done for the other for Falling in love With Sophia, that Faith, Hope & Love, there was something that God put on my heart and told me this is what I want you to do. And I just followed that voice for all those years and through the past year that we made it and have been doing post production, so forth, just kept following that voice.
Makeba: Wow, that’s a wonderful thing. And God’s timing is perfect, we know that for sure. Now this film is very well put together and it’s shot beautifully. What was the production process like? And you told us how long it took you to bring the film to life, but how long did it take to film the entire movie?
Robert: Actually, people sometimes don’t realize the filming of it only takes several weeks. It’s, I don’t want say it’s the easy part because you really have to get it right and it really takes a tremendous amount of pre-production to get it right, because especially in a film like this, we had to have all the music at a time, all the choreography done ahead of time, rehearsed and so forth. And then you just execute that plan when you get into production, and then the longest part is probably post-production. I’d also edited the film without several of the people and it took I think four and a half months before we were finally done with the film after we’d completed it. So that’s actually one of the hardest parts and also that part is kind of, the lonely part because it’s really only you, the assistant editor and a few other people, and you’re looking at that footage all day long, every day for months. So that kinda is the longest part. But all in all, I would say from beginning to end, it’s probably a year long process.
Makeba: And it’s well worth it because the end result is just beautiful, I can’t speak enough of it. And the soundtrack is wonderful as well.
Robert: Michelle Crispin was our sound supervisor, music supervisors, excuse me. And she and I began working on that music two years ago. And when you talk about God’s presence in a project or in your life, that’s a perfect example, I had never met Michelle. And I think God brings people into your life when you’re doing his work that are meant to be there and to help you fulfill what his purpose is, and she was one of them. And we worked so hard on that, on all of that music to get it right, so it’s always great when somebody mentions stuff like that.
Makeba: Yes. I’m a big stickler for music and sound in movies, so yes, I have to give props for that, great job there. Now of course, you’re no stranger to acting, writing and producing in film and television. How has working on Faith, Hope & love different from your work on other projects?
Robert: It was different in this sense and that it was the biggest project that I ever worked on in terms of so many hearts writing it, producing it, co-directing it, dancing in it, editing it, so forth. You have help along the way. J.J Englert was a co-director of ours, and people helping me with editing and so forth. But really, I took on so many hearts in this project and you have to be so focused, and this was of all the projects I’ve done, the one that I did the most amount of work on. And you can’t mess up in any one of these facets otherwise it hurts the film tremendously. If I haven’t learned the choreography and I don’t know the dance, it’s gonna hurt in the end.
If I don’t know my lines and I don’t know what I’m doing in scenes, it’s going to hurt. You can’t edit your way around something like that. If I don’t spend dozens and dozens and dozens of hours staring at the footage and really know what I’m doing and make sure I do a good job, it’s going to hurt the film. So, it’s each one has its own category of difficulty, but the thing that made this so different was I had a really focus on five or six parts of production and post-production that was difficult. Enjoyable but difficult.
Makeba: Well, you did a flawless job. I have to give it to you.
Robert: Oh Man, I’d love to. Tell all the critics when it come out, tell them that I’d appreciate that.
Makeba: It was flawless for sure. Absolutely. Now we talked about you. Let’s talk about the rest of the cast. How did you assemble this stellar class for this movie? Were there certain actors you already had in your mind as you wrote the story? Or you talked about you had the concept down early on, but did you already have certain actors that you saw in your mind for certain roles?
Robert: Sure. Great question. And again, not to be redundant, but I know that a lot of people that are watching this film will be reading about, are people of faith, are people that are interested in faith. So, I mention this aspect again, we had offered, I’d written that role, the role of faith I had really written it originally with Candace Cameron Bure in mind. And I think she’d been on Dancing With The Stars, I’d seen her there and I thought, oh, this would be great for her and so forth but she ended up passing on it. And then we offered it probably too, I want to say at least another dozen actresses and they all passed on it. They all passed out it for various reasons, scheduling some people, some people money and so forth. And then we finally got a well known dancer, somewhat famous dancer and she had committed to it and we are about a month and a half away from production and she just wouldn’t rehearse.
So, I called her manager, I’m like, hey look, she’s never acted before, she’s got to rehearse. And she ended up skipping out on another rehearsal and I finally said hey, we got to let her go. And everyone said oh my God, don’t let her go we’ll never going to find a actress who can dance, or a dancer who can act and you just gotta go with what you got, and now it’s 39 days before production. And I remember saying no, I’m going to stick to my guns and I went back, prayed about it and I said, we need a Faith. We have Faith, but we need you to find us a Faith. And so, which is the lead actresses character name. And so I mentioned to the manager, what about Peta Murgatroyd? And she had just gotten off of the show, Dancing With The Stars and as they turned out the week she got lead off the show was the week that we were looking for somebody.
And she told me later that the morning she came into the audition, she was crying, she’d had a really rough morning that morning and she was crying and she called up and said, “Sir, I don’t think I’m going to go, I want to go. I don’t think it’s gonna turn out good.” She never acted before. And she came upstairs—and we actually have the tape still—and she read. At the end of the tape I said, that was great. She said, really? I said, no, it was really great. And she ended up being our Faith. And a few weeks ago, one of my sons asked me, of all the actresses you gave, maybe offered to and thought of, would any of them have been better than Peta? And the answer was no.
That it really made me think that God led me to her. And ironically, in our first week of rehearsals, Peta and I were rehearsing and then one of our breaks, she turned to me, she says, you know I’ve been praying about this for the past year, and that was a sobering moment because I realized it was almost like God was saying to me like, this is who I wanted you to have, don’t mess it up, Robert.
Makeba: And this is how you know that’s the truth because in watching the film, you cannot tell what you just said is true. You would think that she was the absolute first choice, that you had her in mind, which undoubtedly proves, like you said, she was the one for the role. We all know sometimes that God takes us through hills and valleys to get us to where he really wants us to be. So-
Robert: Right. That’s the way God works. And I found that with every role we cast, it’s just if you’re patient and you tell God it’s your will, not my will, your will be done, He’ll take it to where it’s supposed to be.
By the way, when I went to hire Peta, everybody, I mean everybody around me said, “Do not do it. You will never be able to teach her how to act in 39 days.” [But] I just thought, I think I can do this. So Peta and I rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. She had a natural talent for it, which went a long way, but the other thing was she listened to whatever I had to say. She would listen to it, she would execute it, and in the end, I just think she’s fantastic in the movie. I think it’s one of the best performances by a true dancer in a movie in 20 or 30 years. I’ve been saying that for a year. I really do think it is.
Makeba: Peta did do a fantastic job. It’s interesting that you mentioned natural, because that’s what I was going to mention as well, is that the chemistry between you two, between the chemistry and your acting and her acting and the way it was shot, looking at it, you forget that you’re looking at a film. It’s almost as if you’re standing on that rooftop. You’re standing in that dance studio, and you’re watching this happen in real time.
Robert: That’s great. That’s the best compliment you could ever say. That’s the best compliment you could ever give.
Makeba: It lets you know what a fantastic job you did, that Peta did, that the entire cast did with this film. You cannot tell that was her first time acting at all. Everything was so natural, especially the scenes between the two of you.
Robert: Yeah, and the funny thing is, too, sometimes you work on a film and you shoot a scene and you go, “Oh that felt great.” Then you look at the footage and you go, “Oh, that didn’t turn out too good.” You know, you think it did. So I remember the first time I had a chance to look at some of the footage, I think it was like three or four, maybe day five even. It was the scene where Peta and I are at the door, and she says, “I need to tell you something.” We go up to the rooftop after that. It’s at the door that, I looked at that scene, I thought, hey, I think we got pretty good chemistry. I think it’s showing up on film. There was something about the two characters and the way that we related, and you’d never know. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I never know why or why not, but Peta and I, it worked from the very first day, and I think it showed up on film.
Makeba: It certainly shines through in the heart, from her and from you, shines through, through the film. It’s undeniable. So, just excellent job. Again, can’t speak enough about it. We talked about Peta. Let’s talk about the other all-star cast members that you have in the film. I’m speaking of the legendary actors, Ed Asner, Corbin Bernsen, and so on. How was it to have them a part of the film and to work with them?
Robert: There’s always a moment when you’re doing these things, even Michael Richards, from Kramer, from Seinfeld as well, there’s a moment where you’re directing them, and you go, “Hey, let’s do this. Try this and go back and do this.” There’s a moment when you’re walking back towards the camera, where you think, oh my God, I’m directing Kramer. I’m directing Ed Asner. I mean, these guys have won so many awards for comedy and for drama and you think, what do they even need to talk to me about?
The one thing I learned with all of them, all of them, is when they come on the set, in the first five minutes they will sense whether you’re monkeying around or whether you’re really serious. On our sets, we’re a very low key, quiet set, but we’re all about business when we’re there. We’re working really hard, and they pick up on that. The minute they know you’re trying, and they know, especially, that I’m acting as well, they know. I give them so much respect because I know what they’re going through. I know what they’re thinking. I know what they’re trying to do.
The one thing that was a common denominator for all of them, those guys are all old school. They aren’t phoning it in. They want to get it right. If they see you’re trying to get it right, man, do they respond to that. I mean, Ed Asner was 87, and I would give him a note or something to go, “I got it. I got it. I know. I know.” I just loved it, because he didn’t fluff it off. He really wanted to get it right. In fact, during one of the breaks, I went up to M. Emmet Walsh, another phenomenal legend, and Ed Asner, and I turned to Ed, and I said, “Ed, I have to tell you, it’s an honor for me to have you here and to be directing you.” I said, “Growing up, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have this opportunity.”
He looked at me, and he just kind of smiled, and it was a twinkle, like it still meant something to him. I go, “I know, you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s an honor.” I don’t know if you’ll understand this joke, but there was a famous scene with him and Mary Tyler Moore, which he said, “Kid, you got a lot of spunk.” She goes, “Oh, I know, I guess I do.” He goes, “I hate spunk.” It became a famous line. So I said to him, I said, “Ed, at least I didn’t make you say, ‘I hate spunk,'” He just started laughing, because that was my way of saying, “I know who you are. I’ve been watching you forever. You’re a legend.” All those guys, Corbin, and they’re all just fantastic, hardworking, loved working with them. Mike Richards, too. Michael, oh Man. We have some of the tape to where I’m directing him. Michael, if you’re working hard and you’re trying to get it, man, if you just … Oh, I just can’t say enough about him. Great Guy.
Makeba: Okay, this is just phenomenal. You talked about the cast and you. Now, let’s get into they’re a little bit of the story. I promise you, I won’t ask you anything to give the film away, because I want everyone to see the film for themselves. In speaking of the film, we do see your character, Jimmy, as well as a few of the other characters, hold on to hope and fight to remain positive when things are going from bad to worse. How important was it for you to relay that message in this film?
Robert: That’s the whole game right there. When I was in film school, my final film was called, Hold On To Your Dream, and I think that’s what God put me in this world to do, which is when I talk to friends, acquaintances, family members, and my own personal experiences, you see people going through trouble, and I’m telling you, everybody is. It’s just the nature of life. You have great moments, but there’s a lot of struggle in between.
I think that what God put in my heart, through the years is that, when people tell me something’s going wrong in their life or I read something, that for whatever reason, I just can’t gloss over it and go, “Oh, that’s too bad. Sorry to hear that.” It really affects me and stays with me sometimes for years. So what I’ve learned through the years is that, I think my movies reflect that real life situation and then leaves you with hope. That’s what I get from God, is I get that eternal hope. There have been so many moments in my life that could be devastating moments, things that were on the brink of horrible disaster. Some of them were disasters, and each time God gave me the hope, held onto me and brought me back up.
Let me give you an example, because who’s ever listening to this may go, “I wonder what he’s talking about.” My wife and I, it was, 20 years ago, she got pregnant with triplet boys, and 12 weeks into the pregnancy she went into labor. The doctor said, “You’re going to have to go on complete bedrest.” At one point he said, “Look, I’m not worried about the three boys dying. Here’s what I’m worried about, is you’re going to give birth to three invalids.” He said, “Your marriage will be over. It will have a devastating impact on you.”
So they were encouraging us to reduce, from three, to two, to one. There was a lot of tears and just a lot of emotion. But by the grace of God, we just said … A priest said to me at the time, he was talking about his own wife and he said, “My marriage could survive anything.” I felt that way about my wife.
My wife and I have been married now 25 years, and I guess we were about five years in our marriage then, and I just thought our marriage will survive anything. We’re tight. So we said, “No, we’re not going to reduce.” They put these monitors on her and every week those monitors would go off. We’d go into the emergency room. He’d say, “Guys, you can’t come back in here.” A week later, on again.
Finally, it was a great moment. He said, “If you come back in before Labor Day, I’m going to tell you, you have to reduce. I’m going to you that as your doctor.” Sure enough, on Labor Day, the monitor went off. Into the emergency room we go, I’m sitting there, just thinking, ah, this is going to be a horrible conversation. I don’t know how we’re going to get in a fight with his doctor.
The doctor walks in. He had to be about six-two. My wife’s five-three, and she’d just come out of the bathroom with her gown on, and she looked at him when he walked in. She goes, “I don’t care what you say. I’m not reducing. I’m not getting rid of any of the kids, and that’s what you’re going to ask me, you can leave.”
That was it. He just started laughing. He goes, “Okay, if that’s what you want, we’ll try and make it as far as we can.” That was about week 20, maybe, and it went to 22, 24, 28, 32. Finally he said to my wife, “Why don’t you tell me when you’re going to give birth, and I’ll just show up?” She said, “If it’s week 35, it’ll be tomorrow.” It was tomorrow, and that’s when she gave birth, at 35 weeks.
Those three boys have gone on to not only be scholar athletes in high school, but they’ve gone to three of the best universities in the country, and they play football in college now. It’s by the absolute and total grace of God, and that’s just one of many examples of where God has so impacted my life. The reason I’m making these films is to give glory back to Him and to let everyone know, whatever you’re going through, if you ask God to help you, He’ll be there. He will be there.
Makeba: That is so true. Amen. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with us. So, you talked about, I would say grown folks stuff, adult things that adults go through. Now I want to bring it to the kids because you do have some kids in this movie, quite a bit of them. Again, don’t want to give the whole story away, but you do … your character has two young girls who are going through their own experience with the sudden loss of their mom at a young age. This is something that we’ve been seeing playing out in the spotlight quite a bit lately with the untimely passing of Kim Porter. She left behind here twin daughters. Then Pastor Tony Evans’ niece, Wynter Evans, she passed and left behind four daughters. As this is a movie the whole family can enjoy, what do you hope that young kids, especially those who have lost a parent at a young age or may just be going through a tough time themselves, what would you like for them to take away from the story?
Robert: I‘ll give you a perfect example. The night of the premier in Los Angeles, somebody that was a friend called up and said … there’s a child who essentially was a foster child that she was watching over, ’cause the mom was going through a difficult time. The dad had committed suicide, and the son had seen it. He said … The lady asked me, can he come to the primer? She said he’s only twelve years old. I said, “Absolutely. Are you kidding? Of course.” He came to the premiere and he saw the movie. Afterwards I got a chance to talk to him briefly. She called me up later. She said, “I can’t believe what an impact that movie made on his life.” I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “He’s never cried and he’s never thought about or talked about what happened.” She said when certain things happened in the movie, it was first time … She goes, ” It was almost like it was the first time he could relate to something and release that emotion.” I’ve stayed in touch with both of them since that premiere.
That’s just another one of those moments where you realize you’re having an enormous impact on people. What really was cool … a lot of the young dancers were there. They were between 9 to 14 years old. They were originally supposed to sit up in the balcony ’cause I wasn’t sure if they would sit still. I was so shocked, they stood still for the whole movie and cried and laughed with everybody else. It had a huge impact on them. That’s a great thing that you can get young kids even relating to a film.
Makeba: Absolutely, absolutely. You talked about how this movie has impacted them. It definitely impacted me when I watched it. I laughed, I cried. It touched upon so many things even in my own life, that the messages in the movie helped me. So thank you for that.
Robert: Beautiful, beautiful.
Makeba: Yes. So, we mentioned earlier, as you said you wore many hats to bring this film to life for that sole purpose. Tell us how has writing producing and staring in this movie impacted you.
Robert: That’s a great question. I think the biggest impact it had on my life is, if you’re gonna fluff something, if you’re going to just walk through it, it easy to do. You can cheat on the writing, you can cheat on the acting, you … The that it’s had is every step of the way you keep trying to do the best you can and what you’re trying to do is, you really think long and hard, “What am I trying to say and what am I trying to do it for?” At the end of the day, it’s moments like you and I are having right now. This is it for me.
What I really want to do is reach out, because I realize that’s what this movie is about and that’s what I think God put me here to do and so that’s what I’m trying to do. So, each step of the way, the impact it’s had on me is, when I … When this movie’s done, there’s three things … People will come up, but they’re very cordial when they walk in. They say hello. The screen the film and afterwards, people will come up and hug you and hold you. The three things they say to me are, number one, “Thank you for making me feel good about life again.” Number two, “Thank you for making a faith-based film that doesn’t pound me over the head with a ton of stuff about religion. You let me feel my way through it as the film goes on.” And number three, “Thank you for giving me a film that I can watch with my children, my husband, wife and with my grandparents.” It reinforced in me, keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s having an impact on people.
Hopefully…I’ll tell you, this would be an interesting question. I have been reading the Bible about miracles for the last two months. If you ask me, this may end up being the biggest impact it has on me, because I’m trying to figure out what … every miracle that God did, he would never say, “I healed you.” He would always say, “Your faith has healed you.” He always loved when you had bold faith. Like the sarge in the kingdom said, “I know if you say it, you don’t even have to go there Jesus. If you just say it, my daughter will be healed.” Christ loved that faith. So in my prayer, I keep saying, “God, where do I put that? At what level do I say that I know it’s going to be a huge hit, even though we’re only in 25 theaters.” That’s probably the biggest question and biggest lesson I’m gonna learn in this film is the answer to that question. This all plays out to see what God did with the movie.
Makeba: Well I will tell you this, God was definitely behind you. You have tears in my eyes right now with everything that you just said.
Robert: That’s why we do this. That is why we do this. I am telling you this is … I’m telling you, this is why I know God’s having me do it. Where it’s going to all end up, I don’t know, but I have a feeling God has something big in store, and I think that people will remember this interview and say, “Oh my God, I remember, before this thing even took off, I heard him talking about this and look what it became.” It won’t reflect on me, it’ll reflect on God.
Robert: That’ll be the most important thing.
Makeba: He will get all the glory. That is so true. As we just said, there’s so many inspiring messages in the film and you talked about a lot of those messages. But if you could just pick out just one of the messages that you hope viewers will take away from seeing the film, what would it be?
Robert: It would be hope. It would be, whatever you’re going through, at times it feels insurmountable. At times, it feels crushing. At times, it feels like your dreams aren’t coming true. It feels like you haven’t found that person. Your son or daughter’s on drugs, whatever it may be, it can feel like there’s just no up left. I hope that what comes through this film is hope. There is hope. In the film, Jimmy’s lost his wife for three years. She’s going through a divorce. These are things that happen to people all the time. He’s struggling with his daughter. These are common everyday problems that can sometimes crush a human-being’s spirit. What I try and show is that there’s hope and that hope is in the name of Christ. That’s what I hope gets through.
FAITH, HOPE & LOVE movie opens in theaters across the country, March 15th. Find a theater near you now at www.fhl.movie/theaters
[…] A simple and affordable mobile setup can allow you to live stream or record worship services and sermons. With professional broadcast equipment, this type of setup is great for churches of any size. If you live stream, your socially distanced members can tune in from their living rooms in real time. If you record the service, they have the option to watch once the video has been uploaded and still stay current on church happenings and important faith-based messaging. […]