Bradley Whitford has been a part of many iconic projects throughout his career -- from cult classic Billy Madison to cultural juggernaut The West Wing. But his latest project, an ABC adaption of Mitch Albom's Have A Little Faith, is easily the most important.
After listening to him wax poetically about the TV movie for just a few moments, you quickly understand why he wanted to tell the story of a Detroit preacher who overcame a life mired by drugs and the newspaper columnist whose life was changed forever by meeting him.
ETonline: What made you want to be a part of this project?
Bradley Whitford: Two reasons. One was to work with [director] Jon Avnet, Martin Landau and Lawrence Fishburne. But the larger element, the one that really made me want to be a part of it, stems from the fact that I get frustrated the only religious voices we hear in the media are of condemnation and exclusion. That makes for better television but not necessarily a better society. We need to encourage this notion of inclusion and the obligation to help those who are struggling. That's not a message I hear very much these days, so I was excited to be a part of it.
ETonline: At this point in your career, what is it about a script that makes you say, "I want to be a part of this"?
Whitford: It's a variety of things. I was very lucky on The West Wing and to have this incredible creative experience that happened to be about something I believed in. But if you don't have the writing chops and the acting chops and the production chops and the directing chops, you do a disservice to the other things. You have to make sure that's there first. As an actor, there's often a desire to do something that's different than what you’ve done before, and I think you have to be careful of that instinct because the biggest thing is an intuitive connection. This is something I felt like I would enjoy pressing through my mind.
ETonline: But your next movie, Cabin in the Woods, is drastically different from anything you've done before, right?
Whitford: Obviously very different, very different from this. Joss Whedon is an amazing guy, an amazing creative mind. There were really great actors involved and I found it perverse in a very smart way [laughs]. It's an incredibly smart movie, incredibly funny – great actors are in it and you've got Joss Whedon’s crazy mind running wild. I'm looking forward to seeing the reaction. I saw it and I hate seeing things I'm in – my heart is the size of a raisin -- but I thought it was really good.
ETonline: Both projects look to provide two more excellent performances to add to your impressive resume. If you could go back and revisit a character from your past to bring to life the next part of their journey, who would you be interested in playing again?
Whitford: The first thought that comes to mind is Josh Lyman, on The West Wing. It would be interesting to see where he is right now and whether his optimism had curdled.
ETonline: What is it you hope people take away from Have A Little Faith?
Whitford: I hope that people take away, not a religious message, but a basic human call to action. To connect to communities that need help and to understand that at the basis of all these wonderfully different faiths is a message of community and inclusion. Of not limiting people to judgments on their past but seeing what their potential is. That's as good a definition of God as I can get to.
Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith premieres November 27 at 9 p.m. on ABC.