Sean Astin tells us he had “nightmares for a week” after finishing Luke Moran’s upcoming big screen drama, “The Boys of Abu Ghraib.” The nice guy who played “Rudy” and “Lord of the Rings'” Hobbit Samwise Gamgee as an Abu Ghraib prison guard?
“I’m someone who’s really fixated on politics,” comments Sean, who has actively campaigned for candidates including Hilary Clinton. “I’ve also done military-themed movies. I did some work for the U.S. Army. The fact I was offered the chance to do this, it had to happen. I think it’s a patriotic gesture to play the part.”
It’s been a hectic — and extremely eclectic — time for Astin of late. He just wrapped work on his first Christian film, “Amazing Love,” with Erin Bethea (“Fireproof”) and says he the experience meant so much to him, “I’m mourning the loss” of having to move on after having finished production. He’s playing a youth pastor in the movie he says is about “fidelity and unconditional love” that’s divided between scenes of today and scenes of the Bible story of Hosea and Gomer. He has one scene with a very familiar cast mate: his mother, Patty Duke.
In another change-up, October 28 marks the beginning of the roll-out release of Astin’s “And They’re Off” horse racing movie spoof. He reports that the toughest part about playing the sad sack horse trainer in the comedy was keeping a straight face. “We laughed the whole time,” he says of the film that also stars Cheri Oteri, Mo Collins, Gigi Rice, Martin Mull, Alex Rocco and other funny people. “Sitting across from Kevin Nealon talking about taxidermy, I had to put my face in my hands to keep from laughing out loud,” Sean claims.
“This kind of film is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love ‘Waiting for Guffman’ and all those movies. That it’s set in the world of horse racing is awesome.”
Astin says that “And They’re Off” writer-producer Alan Grossbard is a track aficionado who infused the movie with accurate bits of color. “You know who’s going to love it is horse racing geeks. There’s enough stuff in there, they’re going find it very familiar.”
Come Nov. 5, Sean will be seen starring with JoBeth Williams, Charles Shaughnessy and Ernest Borgnine in “Love’s Christmas Journey,” the latest installment of the Hallmark Channel’s hugely popular “Love Comes Softly” series of telefilms based on Janette Oke’s book series of a 19th Century frontier family.
Actors love diverse roles, but Sean admits, “I don’t know that I intentionally set out to do that. I just want to work.” And as far as playing bad, he adds, “I played an ax murdering voodoo cult cannibal in a movie once. I got it because my attorney was friends with the producer. There was nothing socially redeeming about it at all.”