Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Series changed the way people looked at Christian fiction. The safe and meaningless romances of the past were challenged by her raw storytelling and love that arose from the ashes of pain, suffering, and heartbreak. Rivers fearlessly portrayed real life – everything, even the messy stuff. Likewise, the Erwin brother’s recent blockbuster I Can Only Imagine – which is based on a true story – showed Christian audiences that the only way out of the dark is through it. Movies cannot avoid the hard things in life and focus only on hearts and flowers, or on sadness and worldly pleasures. No one will learn anything if entertainment continues to do this. Sadly, Christian movies often fall into the former situation, and if not, their portrayals of real life issues are often half-baked. For this reason, I continue to believe that Christian filmmakers should use the content that is already there. Rivers has proven that people can write relevant fiction based on historical fact, and the Erwins have proven that true stories revolving around social issues make the best movies. Therefore, the Erwins should use their new platform to make Christian miniseries/TV series based off of Christian books. They can start by bringing the Mark of the Lion to the big screen. This book series contains plenty of social issues to choose from – abortion, homosexuality, dysfunctional families, unhealthy relationships, slavery, etc. However, it would likely need the rough edges sanded off a bit for the big screen, for not all of Rivers’ raw content would translate well to movie form. Likewise, some of the secondary characters – namely Marcus and Julia’s friends – might need to be edited out or toned down. However, I firmly believe that the Erwins have the editing skills to make this happen. Second, I have no concerns about character development, for it is already there in the books, and the Erwins are masters in this area. Third, production would need great attention and some artistic flair. Additionally, they would need to branch out to a new filming location that at least looks like Rome and the surrounding areas. Finally, casting would need careful attention. I would suggest their usual mix of good secular and Christian actors, along with several racially diverse cast members that include some Israeli and other Arabic ethinicities to make the movie more culturally sound. I have full confidence that the Erwins could pull this off. Plus, a challenge would be good for them.
Dream Cast for a Mark of the Lion TV series
Hadassah: Keisha Castle-Hughes would make a great Hadassah. She is good at portraying a quiet, unassuming personality that hides an inner strength. Plus, she has already proven her acting skills in the Nativity Story movie.
Marcus Valerian: Joseph Fiennes is good at portraying men of Marcus’ personality, plus, he has the look for it.
Mrs. Valerian: Nicole Duport would be perfect for this role in every way. She has the look (her Amy Grant portrayal) and the talent to pull it off.
Mr. Valerian: Olivier Martinez would be great at portraying this character. He has already proven his ability to portray a confident, strong-willed character who likes authority in Paul, Apostle of Christ.
Julia Valerian: I leave this character up to the masters of casting. The actress playing this role would need to have the ability to portray a selfish, thoughtless, impulsive, and strong-willed female who is up for anything that goes against her parent’s wishes.
Alexander the physician: Jim Caviezel, he would draw attention to the film and is also good at portraying a prideful, self-confident character such as this.
Calabah: Shohreh Aghdashloo, I have no words for how well she could portray this character. She’s a great villian/evil mentor.
Atretes: This role needs to be filled by someone of German or similar heritage who can portray a character who has emotional ups and downs – who gets easily angry and tends to go on emotional highs. I must stipulate that such an actor be cast not only for his appearance, but primarily for his acting skills. It would be easy to fill this role with a generic muscled man who can’t act.
Caius (Julia’s first husband): James Faulkner could fill this role, if he masked his British accent like he did in his most recent Christian film. Likewise,
Robert Bathurst has the perfect personality for this character – if only he wasn’t British.
Theophilus: Ralph Fiennes has the look, talent, and imposing presence to fill this role very well. Though he is an English actor, he is not actually British. His family tree includes people from Irish, Scottish, and Norman heritage.