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Dan Murphy

The Total Man Package: Christian Character Actor?
by Dan Murphy

September 2002

I'm not really a Christian, but I'll play one for money. I played a churchgoer extra in the independent feature SCREEN DOOR JESUS. I even sent in some headshot/resumes for another Christian project. It's a commercial to run on KEYE for Shoreline Christian Center.

SCREEN DOOR JESUS IS about a lady in Texas who sees the image of Jesus (the Messiah - not some guy from the east side) in her screen door. When I got the email about the movie from Dan Eggleston, I turned on the TV and the local news was running a story about the movie. Could this be some kind of Karmic Coincidence? Probably not. The scenes I was involved with were filmed at the University of Texas Presbyterian Church and karma is a Buddhist or Hindu thing.

As I mentioned, I'm not Christian, but I was brought up Catholic for a few years. So of course now I'm Agnostic. I didn't become Agnostic because of some bad experience with the Catholic Church. I'm Agnostic because Christianity has never made much sense to me.

Come to think of it, I am a little angry about being brought up Catholic. I was a cute kid and not once did a priest touch me inappropriately. They never even asked me out on a date. Sure, now that I'm this sexy, rebel Agnostic they all want a piece of The Package literally. Well, eat your hearts out Buckos, because I'm not available. Besides, if I was into guys I would have just become a priest.

Therefore, due to my lack of intensive religious training (and sense of reason), I started to ponder how am I going to play my churchgoer scene. I thought about channeling my Christian friend Keith and transforming myself into "The Church Guy." This is where I'd copy Dana Carvey's Church Lady except I'd be a guy. Then I thought about showing up as "Super Pope" with my sidekick "Nun Violent" (animated characters a friend of mine came up with).

I was torn. I didn't know how I should play my roles. I thought about calling my Aunt Sir James Peter, but I don't think she would approve of this banter. So, I put in a call to The Man. No, not the Pope. I called Father Guido Sarduchi to get his advice. Sarduchi told me to use Salvation as motivation for my scenes because I needed it. I should have known better to call that smart ass. Hell, I even knew the Catholic Church was headed for trouble in the 70s when they ordained this idiot.

My wardrobe concerns were alleviated when I was told to show up at 10 a.m. at the church dressed in small-town church attire with a couple of changes of clothes.

In the first scene that I was involved, I was in a pew with two other guys. We were seated directly behind the preacher who was delivering part of his sermon. I don't know who the actor was, but he was good. He really had the cliché preacher thing down. He looked like Gary Oldman and had The Oral Roberts hair look.

They had some trouble lighting the scene. Then, God said, "Let there be light" and there was lots of light on the set. The Package 4:1.

I met some nice people on the set. One of the other extras seated on the pew to my left Travis had a good sense of humor and an interesting story. He mentioned that the church probably wouldn't need a tithing this month because they were probably being paid for the use of their church.

Travis also told me that his dad did some acting years ago and one of his dad's buddies had worked as an extra on the original Star Trek series. It was the episode where the Enterprise picks up these space hippies. Apparently, his dad's friend had a copy of the script and tried to give it to his kids, but they weren't interested in it. So, he gave it to Travis.

For my next scene, I was placed in a pew in the general seating for the church. In addition, I was given a Bible as a prop. In this scene, I found out that the girl seated next to me was the stand-in for the female lead in the new TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake. I forgot her name. She said she met Ron Howard a week earlier because he dropped by the set of Chainsaw.
Apparently he and the Chainsaw Director are friends.

Before my third church scene (I was just moved to the other side of the church), the girl production assistant who gave me the Bible came over. She sarcastically told me that my Bible prop wasn't in the scene enough for the last take and they almost removed me. I said, how about I do this. I balanced the Bible on top of my head. She said that's great.

By my third scene, I was praying to get the hell out of there because I had a lot stuff to do. Suddenly, the shoot wrapped after this. Man, this praying thing might actually work.

You shouldn't have any trouble spotting me in the film when it's released. Remember, in my most prominent church scene, I'll be seated behind the Preacher giving his sermon. I'll be the guy doing the Rock 'N' Roll devil sign with my right hand behind him.

Talk to you later. Take Care!

Dan Murphy


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