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Video:The Rite Interviews - Anthony Hopkins and Father Gary Thomas

with Rebecca Murray

Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as a priest who performs exorcisms in 'The Rite' directed by Mikael Hafstrom. Father Gary Thomas, the inspiration for the book the film's based on, and Sir Hopkins discussed the film's subject matter at the world premiere.See Transcript

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Transcript:The Rite Interviews - Anthony Hopkins and Father Gary Thomas

Rebecca Murray from About.com Hollywood Movies at the World Premiere of New Line Cinema's The Rite.

Sir Anthony Hopkins - 'Father Lucas' in The Rite

Do you feel it's more a story of faith or is it a horror story?

Sir Anthony Hopkins: "No, it's story about faith and doubt and life and the soul, and it's quite a debate, you know? There's a young priest in it who is troubled by his own lack of faith and so am I, the priest I play. I'm troubled by my loss of faith. And in my own life, yeah, I don't know what to believe. I don't know what I believe, really."

"But it's a good film and it's based on a reality. That's why I did it. It was a good script and an excellent director - Mikael Hafstrom - excellent director. And this young actor, Colin O'Donoghue - just down the line there, a young Irish actor."

He's a newbie.

Sir Anthony Hopkins: "Yeah, he's never been in a movie before. Well he did The Tudors. He had a small part. But no, this is first big movie. He was a nice guy to work with. It's his birthday today so when he comes along, wish him a happy birthday. He's 30 today...my age."

Father Gary Thomas - The Priest Who Inspired the Book

So they used your story for the movie. How close did they get it?

Father Gary Thomas: "I think the story is very accurate. I mean there are some licenses that they took, which I was expecting them to take. But the exorcism scenes are very accurate. I was on the set for a week. I am the exorcist at my diocese. They are very accurate. Michael [Petroni, the screenwriter] and Beau [Flynn, the producer] and Tony wanted them to be obviously very accurate. They're not Hollywood-esque in that there is no...they don't resemble in the same kind of way the original Exorcist movie from 1972. I think this is...there's a real plot and there's a real story, and there's a story underneath exorcism that has to do with faith. And I think that's what really comes out. And if you have a chance to see it, you come away with there was a leap of faith that ends up in the end of the movie that really makes it. It's very sincere."

"Now, that did not happen to me. I did not have a faith crisis. Although in the movie it starts out I'm in the mortuary business, and I was in the mortuary business. I was a licensed embalmer. I took the course, but it wasn't because I was having a faith crisis. I took the course because my bishop - I went on sabbatical and my bishop said, 'The exorcist is a course you can take while you're on your sabbatical.' And then while I was on my sabbatical is when I met Matt [Baglio, the author of the book] and I found an exorcist to work under, because you really needed to get some hands-on experience which I was able to do. So, the scenes of the exorcism are right on."

"There are times in my own life where, if you see the movie, there are some highly emotional scenes, there are some very riveting scenes. I could apply some of that stuff to me on my own, when I've struggled sometimes with, you know, you pray over a person repeatedly and it doesn't always work out as you're hoping. I've never had someone die in this movie as a result, if that's what happens. But nonetheless there is intense suffering when you're ministering to people in this realm. There is. And most of the people who come to me do not have a diabolical attachment; it's mental health stuff. But there is still grave suffering."

That is a big point made in the movie is the young priest believes that this is all psychological.

Father Gary Thomas: "Right. And I think that the character that Colin plays, Michael Kovak, I think is an icon in that movie that represents the skeptics, legitimate skeptics. 'How can this be?' I have a psychologist, psychiatrist, and a medical doctor on my team so I don't do this all by myself. I get them involved and I get other priests involved. We look at this from a whole bunch of different vantage points. It's not just me coming in and winging it and saying, 'Okay, you are,' or, 'You aren't.' It's much more in depth."

Do you ever wish that you had never delved into that portion of your faith?

Father Gary Thomas: "No, no. Because there's not very many of us that do this. It is a healing ministry in the church. There's more and more of a need for it, and I think our church owes it to Catholics but anybody can come. I see people who are Christian but not Catholic and some who are non-Christian. I think people need a place and a person with some expertise who can answer their questions or listen to them. Because when you mention the word demon, Satan, spirits, you - more often than not - frighten people, and people will polarize you and put you in a box and they'll think that someone you're weird or you're crazy, and that only feeds the polarization and isolation that people like that feel. And how do we help them, how do we get clarity on what the root of the problem is?"

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