Christian Lead Actor Richard Blake In His Latest Movie Release – Snake and Mongoo$e:
One Last Hurrah Before the Summer Peels Out!
Summer is making a dramatic exit stage left, as autumn eagerly awaits its cue stage right. As much as I love autumn, I’m in no rush for summer to end, and I happily (and sometimes obnoxiously) will remind those around me that summer is still officially here for a number of days. As a matter of fact, the movie I have been most surprised by and most excited about came out today. And although “Snake and Mongoo$e” is a lower budget, limited release film, if it’s not summer blockbuster material- I don’t know what is.
“Snake and Mongoo$e” is a biopic with a large order of drag racing excitement on the side. It’s the true story of how Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen went from strangers to the ultimate racing rivals of all time, from rivals to business partners, and from business partners to lifelong friends. The movie’s content does not stop there. The movie also delves deep into who these men really are and how their families evolve along with them. Ashley Hinshaw portrays Lynne Prudhomme and Kim Shaw brings Judy McEwen to the big screen. The character development and interactions run deep throughout the film and add substance where many films would choose to add cheap attractions, like long party sequences or exploitive shots of women.
“Snake and Mongoo$e” also stands out because it was made with the involvement of the real Tom McEwen and Don Prudhomme. These living legends worked one on one with the stars who portray them. This lends an authenticity and respect to the film that is incredibly rare. All of the actors know they are playing real people, and strive to play them well and truly- and it shows!
I was already beyond excited about this film when I got the news that I may have a chance to interview Richard Blake, the rising star who plays Tom McEwen. After doing my due diligence in the way of research for a film I was planning to write about, I discovered that Richard had been in a variety of shows I have watched, and I recognized him! This is his first big leading role, but there is no way it will be his last. I think that very soon, he will be a recognizable face to lots of people (not just film and TV obsessors like me).
That chance for an interview became the real deal when I saw that I was getting a phone call from Los Angeles. It was Richard Blake himself and he was ready to talk about the movie, and even more importantly, he was ready to talk about being a Christian in Hollywood. I did my best to shush one of my especially meowy cats, and started in with the questions!
A big question that I think a lot of us have is: how does being a Christian affect your career as an actor? Does it make things easier or harder? For Richard, it’s both. “I know I’m never alone,” he told me. This is a sentiment that helps me get through my hardest days, too. “We worry about things as humans, but I know I don’t have to be afraid. It gives me a quiet confidence.” Even though it’s his career, his faith helps him maintain perspective in the face of challenges. “At the end of the day, it’s just a movie or a part.” However, it truly has made some aspects of his work harder. “I’ve had to turn roles down.” These are roles that Richard didn’t feel were well suited to a Christian. But that doesn’t mean he won’t take a role unless he’s portraying a clear-cut good guy. In fact, he has a beautiful way of evaluating potential roles. “If I’m going to play a murderer, I look at what happens to the character. Does he get away with it? Would I be glamorizing it?” I had never thought of role selection like that but it makes so much sense. I mentioned to Richard how much my fiancé and I love old movies. There are many, many reasons we are drawn to them, but one satisfying aspect is that many old movies were made when bad guys were never allowed to get away with a crime. A great example of this is in the film version of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” These sweet, elderly ladies are killing men that they think are better off dead and in heaven. They really believe that they are doing these men a favor, and in the original play, they do get away with it. However, for the sake of meeting the film industry’s requirements, they are committed to a mental institution in the end, where they will never be able to hurt anyone again. That kind of code may not be around now, but knowing that great men like Richard Blake, let their own Christian compass guide them inside feels like a gift to all Christian movie lovers. Richard pointed out that two of his favorite actors (who happen to be Christians as well), Denzel Washington and Jim Caviezel, appear to do the same thing when selecting roles. They may play depraved characters, but those characters are met with justice. Think about films those actors have been in. It seemed so obvious that they choose their roles with this thought once Richard pointed it out.
So what about just doing films that are strictly Christian? Why doesn’t Richard Blake do that? “Some people tell me that I should do only Christian films, but I disagree. I am a Christian who is also an actor. I feel called to be bolder (about my faith), but I don’t want to push. I want to leave a legacy.” -And that is my definition of a role model. Richard is proud of his Christianity, excited to talk about it, and makes the choice to lead by example. That sounds like so much pressure for a public figure, but he is more than up to the task.
Richard Blake was generous enough to give me over forty minutes of his time, and he had a lot more amazing opinions and observations that would make it easy for me to turn this article into a novel, but I want to leave you with this: Go see “Snake and Mongoo$e.” It has heart, excellent performances, amazing costumes, true emotion, personal growth in all the characters, a first class story, racing excitement at its finest, and a subtle “divine touch” as Richard put it. Support these actors and filmmakers to let Hollywood know- this is what we want! And I especially want to support Richard Blake. Times are tough. The news actually, palpably hurts to read about or watch. When I turn to entertainment, my heart feels lighter knowing that there are Christians like Richard Blake out there, making it worthwhile. That kind of entertainment will stand the test of time. I am so thankful that I got to talk to Richard Blake, and you can bet that the next time I have the opportunity to see something he’s done- I’ll be front and center.