As a teen idol in the 1980s, Kirk Cameron starred in the sitcom “Growing Pains.” During that time, he met his wife Chelsea Noble and began a relationship with Christ. After the show ended, Kirk had roles in other films, including the Left Behind movie series.
His passion for evangelism also led him to a friendship with Ray Comfort and work on “The Way of the Master” radio and television programs. He and Chelsea live with their six children, four of whom are adopted. The family vehicle of choice? A 15-passenger van, with a Volvo as a back-up.
While Kirk was working on the new Sherwood Films’ movie Fireproof he was in the final stages of publishing his personal memoir Still Growing.
How have people responded to the book you just wrote (Still Growing)?
Kirk: Most people have really enjoyed. They’ve enjoyed having a behind the scenes type look at what it was like being a teen idol back in the 1980s. And people have found it inspiring. Some have even used it as an evangelistic gift to give to friends who were fans of “Growing Pains” but aren’t walking with the Lord.
It’s an easy way to introduce people to the gospel, because obviously, most of the book touches on issues of faith and atheism and what I was dealing with in the form of my story. And at the end it presents the Gospel, so people have really enjoyed it overall.
It’s written very personably and in an engaging way. You were involved in a lot at that time: writing, preparing for the film, and working on “The Way of the Master.” What’s going through your mind as you’re working on multiple projects like that?
Kirk: How is my wife and how are my kids handling all of this? It’s nice to be busy, to have “Still Growing” and Fireproof going on at the same time. But at the same time, I’ve got six kids at home, and I need to make sure they’re fee
ling good and doing great and make sure Chelsea (Noble) is feeling good and doing great.
Once Fireproof comes out and things settle down a bit, it will be a nice time for me to kind of back off and celebrate a little bit.
The film utilizes a tool called The Love Dare that has 40 days of challenges for a spouse to go through. Obviously, they weren’t all demonstrated in the film, but of the ones used, did one in particular resonate with you?
Kirk: There were so many great little moments in The Love Dare that it’s hard to choose. Halfway through the movie, Caleb (Kirk’s character) calls his father and say, “Dad, this just isn’t working. I bought her flowers, I made her coffee, I gave her a note and made her dinner. She’s just throwing it right back in my face. I’m not doing it any more. This is a dead-end street.”
And he responds, “Something tells me you’re doing just enough to get by. You’re not really putting your whole heart into it.”
I think that’s an easy way out that a lot of people take in marriages. They think, “I’m going to do a couple of little nice nights this year, and she should just say ‘Thank you.’ That should make up for the last ten years of my disrespect and inattentiveness.”
It’s not until you understand that your marriage is a school that you enter into, and you don’t walk out of it until you die to yourself and learn to love somebody else. That means to sacrifice your preferences and all of your desires and wishes and dreams for your own advancement and career and all those things. You subjugate those things to loving, cherishing, and honoring your wife and treating her like a precious jewel. When you do that, it’s transforming to her.
You can take a person that feels criticized and neglected and run-down and depreciated, and you can completely turn her around if you will love that person selflessly. And that’s what Christ did to win His bride. We love them because He first loved us and sacrificed Himself to bring us to Him. We were in a pretty hostile state with the Lord before we came to Him.
And I think that’s really what the movie is all about. It’s explaining that so that people have a picture of marriage that’s a much higher, glorious, grander view of what marriage is. Then show people how they get there. It’s little baby steps in that direction, lining up and doing things according to the word of God, no matter how you feel.
You and Chelsea have been married 17 years. When you first got married, were there things that came more easily to you, things that maybe Caleb went through?
Kirk: Verbally communicating with her, unexpected gestures of kindness. Those are things my wife and I have always had in our relationship. We communicate pretty well. I think the challenges I experienced as an actor were that I had grown up in a world where the world is a stage, and I’m at the center of it and a lot of other circumstances.
It’s very easy for me to get focused on work, especially on ministry projects, even Fireproof, a movie about marriage. It’s easy for anyone to get involved in a ministry project that you know is significant, and will impact people’s lives, but forget to take care of your marriage and your very own family at the same time.
We were all very careful of that while we were making the movie. Every person in every marriage is vulnerable to the same old things that everyone else is. A wise man is someone who learns to Fireproof his marriage by putting safeguards in place, making sure that he’s disciplined, and that he spends time with his wife. He needs to study her and honor her and cherish her.
All the basics that are so easy to overlook and forget are the really important things.
The producers flew Chelsea out to film the final scene with you. Did your children come to, and do they come on film shoots with you, or do you find that distracting?
Chelsea and the kids didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend on the set. They were there for a day, and during that day, we shot that one scene that Chelsea and I are in together, and then the next day, we left. That was the last day of shooting. It wasn’t really a family vacation.
What do they think when they see you on television or in films?
Kirk: They think it’s kind of funny, and ask, “Daddy, what are you doing on television?” My kids have never seen an episode of “Growing Pains.” They haven’t seen Fireproof. They’ve seen a couple of episodes of things I’ve done, but really my celebrity doesn’t play much of a role in our family life.
Occasionally someone will ask me for my autograph, and that’s kind of interesting and neat to them. They think it’s kind of fun when they see us on television.
Erin (Bethea) said the first scene you did together was the apology scene. That was one of the most intimate and emotionally intense scenes. How do you prepare for that?
Kirk: It was challenging, but I was ready for it. I had done some work with an acting coach to get ready for it. In the first day, there’s a lot of pent-up nervousness and anxiety about how this is all going to go. I think the Lord was very kind and helped us along that day because it was a difficult scene, and more so because it was our first one together. But it worked.
What scene felt the most natural for you personally?
Kirk: I think it was when Caleb was talking with his dad. He said, “Dad, I’m glad it’s working out for you, but I’m just not into all this religious stuff. It’s just not my thing. Where’s God been in my life?”
I remember a time in my life when that was me, and it was very easy to relate to that. I didn’t see Him, He wasn’t showing up, He wasn’t helping me out. It felt very natural to play those parts because I remember when my life was like that.
There’s obviously a strong bond between Alex and Stephen Kendrick and Michael Catt and Jim McBride, who lead Sherwood’s productions. What was it like to come into a group like that and work with them?
Kirk: They made me feel very at-home and part of them. We share a common love for the Lord and I appreciate the things they do for the kingdom through their movies and preaching. And they appreciate some of the things I’ve had a chance to do with “The Way of the Master.” So we felt privileged to be working with each other, and that added to our ability to hit it off right from the start.
Everybody in the cast felt that way too. Even all the guys, who I hadn’t met before the movie, welcomed me. They love the Lord, they’re doing this as volunteers, and when you have that sense of unity in your mission, it just makes it easy.