In Courageous, Robert Amaya stars as Javier Martinez who struggles to make ends meet and keep his faith in God. Amaya recently replied to my questions about the various experiences surrounding his feature film acting debut.
This is the fourth film created by Alex and Steve Kendrick and centers on Javier and four law enforcement officer characters who all work to set “the standard they need to aim for in life.” Strong fatherhood messages of genuine care, regret, and responsibility appear in familiar and very relatable situations. The film ultimately points towards one common theme – who do we serve…ourselves or God?
Amaya, a volunteer worship leader, has acting experience on the professional stage in Miami, Florida and in his children’s ministry activities.
Did you audition for the role of Javier Martinez?
Yes. I had to send in a resume, head-shot, and video. I even had to do something I had never done before – a Skype audition. At the end of the process, they asked many personal questions regarding my walk with Christ. They were always upfront about this being a ministry first and foremost.
How did you draw those geniune emotions when interacting with the family characters?
Courageous does a good job of capturing the essence of the Latino culture. I remember growing up and seeing my dad and mom be very loving with one another. In many ways, “Javier” was my dad.
How did you prepare for the workplace sequence near the end of the film?
Those scenes in the thread factory were actually the very first scenes shot in Courageous. Even with all my stage experience, there was no escaping the anxiety of being in my very first film shoot. I was very nervous, but I think it worked well with the context of the scene itself. At least no one noticed.
How did your ministry experience factor into your acting in this film?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about ministry, it’s that proper communication is essential. Beyond just words, it includes body language, eye contact, and sincerity. I was very conscious of this when filming Courageous.
Describe your acting experience in your first feature film role. How did your co-stars assist/inspire you?
The cast of Courageous was amazing! They are each so incredibly talented and were placed in their perfect roles. I remember Alex Kendrick, who was the director and played Adam Mitchell, always giving me great feedback and asking my opinion on certain character interpretations. It’s always great when a director can establish a creative environment. I must also mention my screen wife, Angelita Nelson. She was wonderful. We met at one of the auditions and hit it off right away. It was almost like being with an old friend. Even the Kendricks thought we had already known each other. After meeting her husband and kids, it was obvious our families were going to be real friends. My wife adores her.
How long did principle filming last?
There were about 40 principal filming days spread out to almost three months. Being a film that points to the importance of family, the producers would usually not film on weekends and send us home. The Kendricks would often say, “Go home and love your families.”
How did the filming locations impact your role in the film?
Compared to Miami, Albany, Georgia is a small town with a slower pace of life; however, it is also very hot. Unlike Miami, there is no ocean breeze. I’ll never forget after the resolution scene, taking my coat off and literally dripping in sweat. Good ol’ southern hospitality is alive and well in Albany. The amount of volunteers was impressive. And I never heard anyone complain. This really created a peaceful and productive environment.
Describe the recent premiere at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.
The premiere was beautiful. The Fox has so much history and so much elegance. It was the perfect location. It was very rewarding to watch Courageous with so many Sherwood fans. They were truly amazing.
Do you see specific film events (e.g. the resolution, the father-son 5K run, the daughter’s ring) becoming huge cultural influences like the Love Dare media did after Fireproof?
Only time will tell. But I think that a lot of dads out there watched this movie with their wives and kids. Having done that, they pretty much got called out on the carpet. “Who will teach your children the ways of the Lord?” That’s the challenge, and most men are responding with “I Will!”
What are your future plans…more acting…filmmaking?
I love acting and I really love film. I am working on some other projects and people should keep there eyes peeled. I am obsessed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I pray that whatever the future holds, God will allow me to effectively share it with others.