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Captive's David Oyelowo Grateful for God and Second Chances

Hannah Goodwyn


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Golden Globe-nominated actor David Oyelowo's resume is quite impressive. He has starred alongside Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Daniel Day-Lewis in Interstellar and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. Earlier this year, Oyelowo showed his lead actor qualities as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in director Ava DuVernay's Selma.

The British-born actor contributes his acting and producing abilities to a starkly different role in Paramount Pictures' new true-story thriller, Captive. In it, Oyelowo portrays Brian Nichols, an alleged rapist who takes single mother Ashley Smith (played by Kate Mara) hostage in her Atlanta suburb home after escaping police custody. You may recognize this story from headlines dating back to 2005 when Smith recounted on camera her harrowing ordeal and the part pastor Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life had in it.

A born-again Christian, Oyelowo became a believer at the age of 16, when God spoke to him during a church service. Since that "visceral" experience, he's felt the "palpable, tangible" love of God. Making redemptive movies has become a part of Oyelowo's life purpose and he's eager to share this story with audiences worldwide.

Recently, Oyelowo spoke with on the phone about Brian and Ashley's incredible story and how it encourages his personal faith. Here are excerpts from that conversation:

On why are the first words seen at the beginning of Captive...

It's all about redemption. That's the thing that really struck me about this story when I first happened upon it is the fact that, look, you have this meth addict and you have a murderer holed up together, and there should be no good that comes out of that. But as it says in that passage, "Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more."

Sin was abounding in both their lives, drug addiction and murder, and yet grace overwhelmed all of that and that's why the film was made. That's why the story is undeniably miraculous. That's why whether you're a person of faith or not, you look at it and go...How did she not die? How did he not murder her as well that night? How did he give himself up? How did he let her go? The story very much typifies that verse.

On how this second-chances movie can reach beyond religion...

Everyone can relate to the desire and need for a second chance, everyone. Like the Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We've all done things that we wish we could have a do-over for, and there is grace for that. There is hope for that. There are possibilities for that. We all want to believe that. To see a story where Ashley Smith, in particular, does get a very undeniable miraculous second chance that she's capitalized upon speaks to all people, surely not just Christians, but anyone who has a beating heart, really.

On the transition between playing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to convicted murder Brian Nichols...

Even in portraying Dr. King, one of the things I was very keen on is not to deify Dr. King, but to humanize Dr. King. Yes, he was a believer. Yes, he was a preacher of the Gospel. But he was also a man, fallible, full of doubt, guilt, all of which we try to show with [Selma]. It didn't nullify his transcendent qualities. In my opinion, he made them all the more brilliant because he was a human being, yet he did these extraordinary things.

On the other side of the coin, you have someone like Brian Nichols who is very dismissible as a murderer, as a reprehensible human being. You should put him away and throw away the key. But, my job, again, is to humanize show that there is a beating heart in there. For all sorts of reasons, we are who we are and we make the choices we make, but God is able to infiltrate each and every one of those situations.

So even though they are completely different characters, diametrically opposed even, at the heart of both those films and why I wanted so desperately to do both those films is still evidence of God's grace.

On what he might say to Brian Nichols if they ever met...

I desperately wanted to meet Brian and the prison he was in wouldn't allow for that. I would actually want to spend more time listening to Brian than anything I can think of right now that I would say to Brian. I think in listening to him maybe I would have something to offer by way of anything to say to him, but I imagine he's someone who even back then, but probably more so now is someone who needs to be listened to before he is spoken to.

On what the American Church can learn from Captive...

The timeless message of Christianity is love God, love one another. That to me is Christianity summed up in a relatively brief phrase. If we are all loving God and loving one another, and in loving God you gain the example of how to love one another, and I think that not being judgmental, truly looking to what your fellow man's needs are, reaching out to people and not just with a bid to give them the Gospel....

I truly believe that Christianity is about a life lived as opposed to words said, and if the Church, not just in America but worldwide, is truly living by God's edicts, by God's advice, which the Bible is full of, then the world will truly be a different place. We as a church often lace our Christianity with our own agendas. Unfortunately, God and religion, and not just Christianity, have been so used as a tool to serve people's agendas. As a result, God gets a bad rap. But what I try to do in my life is to--yeah, do just God, love one another.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's