Left Behind Movie Based On The Bestselling Book Series

The movie “Left Behind”, starring Nicolas Cage, Jordin Sparks, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, and Lea Thompson premiered October 3rd. Have you seen it yet? It is based on the New York Times bestselling book series by the same name, co-authored by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. Right before the release of the movie, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a teleconference that included all the major players, including Nicolas Cage himself!

left behind the movie

In case you have never heard of this popular series of books, this movie is based on the Biblical Rapture that strikes the world. It is only about 25 pages of the first LEFT BEHIND book. The Rapture is when millions of people disappear without a trace. The only things that remain are their clothes and belongings. It brings a Biblical prophecy to life in modern times. Nicolas Cage stars as Ray Steele, an airline pilot who is struggling to save the passengers that remain on his flight to safety. However, he must do this without any help from the ground below since those down there have either disappeared or are in a state of panic and chaos.

Here is a brief trailer of the movie:

Nicolas Cage as “Rayford Steele”. Struggling with a troubled marriage and a strained relationship with his headstrong daughter, Rayford Steele is piloting PanCon flight 257 to London when dozens of his passengers unexplainably vanish. As the world below collapses into crisis, he must find a way to get his damaged plane, his terrified passengers and his panicked crew back to safety.

Cassi Thomson as “Chloe Steele”. College sophomore Chloe Steele is devastated by the strained relationship between her parents Rayford and Irene, a divide caused by her mother’s newfound faith. But when millions of people suddenly vanish leaving the world in chaos, she must face the truth of her mother’s warning and risk everything to try and reunite her family.

Chad Michael Murray as “Buck Williams”.  A well-known news correspondent, Cameron “Buck” Williams is trapped over the Atlantic on the flight piloted by Rayford Steele. When panic breaks out after the Rapture, he must deal with hysterical passengers and crew as they struggle to understand what has happened.

Nicky Whelan as “Hattie Durham”.  A flight attendant assigned to PanCon 257, Hattie flirts with Ray and sees the trip as an opportunity to develop a more serious relationship. But when the Rapture intervenes, she must suddenly face her worst fears and work with Buck and Ray to save the lives of everyone on board.

Lea Thompson as “Irene Steele”.  Rayford’s wife, Irene Steele, desperately wants to communicate the truth of her Christian faith to her family, even though it causes a rift between them. A loving wife and mother, she fears for those she believes will remain after the Rapture.

Jordin Sparks as “Shasta Carvell”.  The emotionally fragile wife of a football star, Shasta is traveling with her young daughter on Rayford’s flight to London. When her child vanishes in the Rapture, she struggles with a secret that threatens both her own life and the lives of the remaining passengers

It was very exciting being on a conference call with someone as famous as Nicolas Cage. It was also interesting to hear their take on the roles they played in “Left Behind” as well as the feelings it invoked in them.

Below are responses from some of the actors and actors in “Left Behind” during this teleconference.

Nicolas Cage

left behind

Moderator: Is there something that you think would be important for someone who watches this to get out of it?

Nicolas Cage response: Well Hi, this is Nicolas Cage and I was just listening and I, I’d like to answer that question. I was very taken by the family dynamic that plays out in this script. And that’s what drew me to the project. That and an opportunity to work again with Vic Armstrong. I had a good rapport with him on another movie. So I felt that I could get to where I wanted to go with Captain Steele. Because this is, this is a person who is in an extraordinary situation and realizes really what his values are through the, he reaches a catharsis through the experience of this extraordinary flight that he’s on. And, gets back to the heart which is his relationship with his family, which is his relationship with “Chloe” his daughter which is so powerfully, she’s so powerful Cassi Thomson in the movie. And I think that that’s what I want, if there’s anything for me, I want that to come across that people realize, yeah we all make mistakes but in a moment of crisis what we really want, what we really go to, go back to is, the love we have for our families. And that’s what, that’s what pulled me in, into this, into this project. That, and also how you make such an extraordinary set of circumstances authentic and how do you make that real and that was a tremendous challenge for, for all the actors to, to play it almost Cinéma vérité that this is really happening and we’re really believing in this situation and it’s to, to convey that to the audience is the challenge. I’ve always been attracted to movies that aren’t afraid to venture into the unknown. City of Angels, movies that were knowing, movies that aren’t afraid to face the possibility of these extraordinary circumstances and, and the challenge of making that real.

Moderator: I know. Yeah. That’s great. Was there, is this the first time you’ve really heard about this story? Like when you heard about the potential (inaudible) people being taken away from the earth or disappearing. Is this the first time like, the rapture was kind of a new concept…(cut off).

Nicolas Cage: No, no. I’m familiar with the rapture of course. I mean, I’m not familiar with it in any aspect outside of what the bible says, but you know, I was not familiar with the LEFT BEHIND series. My brother, Mark, is a Christian pastor, and he was very excited about this. And he said, you know, Nicky, you’ve really got to to do this. I mean this is a, and so I, I, you know I’d already wanted to make the movie because I thought it was such a great script and an opportunity again to do something challenging. But when I saw how passionate he was, I thought, well yeah I want to make this movie for my brother too.

left behind

Cassi Thomson

Moderator:   Cassi what do think are the main issues and struggles for your character in the film? I know she goes back and forth from a lot of different emotional places throughout this movie. What do you think just as a character. Help some of the people on this call who have not seen this movie and don’t really even, maybe know much about the story. What will they get from your character and what is it that you feel like she really went through in this movie?

Cassi Thomson:  Well in the beginning of this film, you, you quickly learn that “Chloe” doesn’t really have any kind of spiritual beliefs at all and she doesn’t, her family growing up didn’t have any kind of faith, didn’t go to church, didn’t, wasn’t really involved with the Christian faith whatsoever. And then her mom found her faith and kind of it, it, it threw a wedge into the family and it kind of pushed “Chloe” away. Because any, any conversations she did have with her mom was always centered around faith and her believe in God and “Chloe” needs to really, you know, get in tune with that and kind of was warning of, warning her of what is coming. And “Chloe” just saw it as more nagging and felt like she kind of lost her mom in a way I think. And that pushed her to separate from not only her mom but her whole family. So in the beginning of the film, I think that’s kind of her main struggle is she’s coming home for her dad’s, you know, her dad’s prized birthday party and then learns that he’s been called off to work. And so then she’s stuck on a, you know, she’s stuck with a one on one interaction with her mom which is uncomfortable. And then very shortly in to the film, the rapture hits and obviously when that happens “Chloe’s” struggles shift dramatically and become a lot more real, and become a lot more intense. But I think the thing that’s so beautiful about “Chloe” and so beautiful about the way she’s written is that she, no matter if it is the beginning, you know, the middle or the end, her struggles do always, kind of circle around her family. And you can tell how much she does love her family. And I think that that was my favorite thing about her is that she’s, you can really, you watch her struggle through this film so much with losing her mom and then, you know feeling like she’s just lost her whole world. And, it’s pretty, it’s pretty great to watch her, you know, watch her struggle through the film, I guess (laughing).

Moderator: Yeah. For sure. Is there one part of the filming or something just from your experience in the movie that stands out above the rest that you want people to hear or that you want to kind of just share, talk about regarding this movie here?

Cassi Thomson: I think one of the most interesting things for me is, they did, really our, our team did such an amazing job of creating these sets and situations of, of the world being in ruins. And for me, you know as a human being, Cassi Thomson, I know the world’s fine, and I know that everything’s ok but you’re really kind of sucked into these sets that you’re put on and there’s this, there’s this specific scene in a hospital and in the nursery section where all of the babies are kept. And, you know all of children, when the rapture hit, they’re all taken off the Earth. And so when “Chloe” finds herself in this nursery all the babies have been gone and you can just see, you know the remnants of these children and for me that was such a, such a crazy experience and such an eyeopening experience and it really was bonechilling in a sense. To be put in these situations where you did, it did feel real for that instant. And that was just very, it was very interesting to, to be a part of something, like that. If that makes any sense.

left behind

Nicky Whelan

Moderator: …You play a very pivotal and very important role in this movie. Maybe just start out just diving right in and telling us about your character (laughing)….

Nicky Whelan:  Absolutely. Hello everybody. Yea, usually you know, as Cassi has mentioned when I read the script it is a very characterdriving script as well as extremely actionpacked. But the particular thing you don’t really know a lot about Hattie when she sort of comes in, and she’s quite (laughing) promiscuous. Like we had this fabulous opening scene which we loved to shoot, Vic if you remember with the lipstick and the car and the whole setup and immediately off the bat from seeing Hattie, you say that there’s something going on with her and “Ray”. I think Hattie seems to be at the beginning a very basic character that’s quite immersed in the world of being an air hostess. She loves her job, that’s all she knows, you know. She sort of dresses up for work, it’s a whole production and obviously she’s got something going on, or hopes to have something going on with the captain, played by Nicolas Cage. And I think the beautiful thing about this character is, you know, you want to hate her. She’s a little bit promiscuous. She’s sort of going against the all the rules. It’s clearly obvious why she doesn’t get taken, (laughing) in the rapture. However, me and Vic did discuss, you know, about making this character as human as possible in the sense that you know, throughout the movie these, the  rapture occurs and we’re on a plane and you know, you don’t think much of her. She seems to be this quiet, you know, naughty air hostess, mincing about, flirting with the captain. And she becomes quite real and quite human and, and, and I think hopefully quite like likable by the end of the movie, when you see how she decides to deal with things that happen on the plane. You know, she finds out, I don’t know if I’m aloud to say this. She finds out that Nicolas is married and so she’s been, not only has she been betrayed by someone that she’s, you know planning on spending some time with and hopefully developing a relationship with. The world’s halfending in a sense. (laughing) And she’s in a plane so there’s a lot taking place and she’s got to keep that as human as possible, and it was a journey that me and Vic discussed and we went on together and as Cassi also mentioned that Vic gave us a great deal of freedom on set to sort of play it how we would. And I remember the very first thing I had to shoot was me coming in hysterical and losing my mind. It was quite a challenge I’ve got to be honest because, there was nothing to sort of build from or anywhere to go from and we really had to be careful with Hattie. I don’t know, I hadn’t read the books before I had started filming. I wasn’t familiar with this story. I just read this cool actionpacked movie with great cast in it, and then sort of learned more about it as I got more involved. But, you know it’s, it’s hard playing, as Vic said, and what I think the (inaudible) done a really good job of in this movie is, not only telling a story that rings true to a lot of people but also making a great action film. And I think we’ve managed to balance both out and I, if we go on to make, you know two and three of this movie my character gets (laughing) really interesting, so I find her, I find her a lot of fun to play and I was really embraced in this, Cassi and the girls had mentioned, it was a journey down there in Baton Rouge and we had an incredible team of people working together under strange circumstances, and really trying to make it come to life and as, as real as possible in such a crazy scenario, so.

left behind

Jordin Sparks

Moderator:  “Shasta Carvell”, is the name of Jordin’s character and Jordin my first question I want to ask you is regarding the book series if you had been familiar with the books or you knew of them before you were part of this movie or kind of what your main motivation for being in this film was and kind of where your heart behind this is?

Jordin Sparks: It’s been really exciting to be a part of this because like you said about the books, when I was younger, all the LEFT BEHIND books came out and then they released a teen series of the books for the younger kids that you know couldn’t read 500 page books, fast enough. So I read this teen series growing up and I just remember being, you know, so affected by the thought of Wow, what if, what if my closest friends just disappeared one day. What if they just weren’t here. Or my closest family members or you know, anything like that and it was just really interesting and as a kid that’s definitely very scary. It’s something that’s like, “Ah well,” Ok that’s very scary it’s just in a book but you know, when you read the bible and you, you take those things to be truth, you know it is definitely something that you can think of and go Wow, that, that could actually happen. My motivation for being in the movie was definitely, I was so excited because I had read the books. And, I was like, you know it would be really fun to be a part of this film because they had described it as something more action and it was definitely, in the beginning of the books, you know the plane is where the book starts. And there’s a whole other story after that, so it’s really fun to be able to see these characters that you might not have been introduced to in the actual books because you’re exploring the people that are on the plane. You’re figuring out their fears, how scared they are, what they’re going through. You look at them sort of like, Ok well I was just on a plane the other day. What would happen if that happened to me on the plane that I was just on. You know, you kind of start to put yourself in those situations. And, so I was very excited to be a part of it, to be like OK this is a character that might not be in the book but you know, she’s got a valid part, so “Shasta” is a mother and her backstory is, is, you know kind of came up with that she’s getting on the plane with her daughter, trying to take her daughter to a safer place in her head that’s what she thinks she’s doing. She’s trying to take her away because of what she’s going through with her husband, her exhusband, we haven’t really decided that. Is that, you know they’re not going through great things at the moment so she’s taking her daughter and she’s just very weary of everybody on the plane. She’s very, I don’t know, she’s very, I feel like she kind of thinks everything is a conspiracy, that everyone’s out to get her, so she, you know, has her daughter on the plane and she wakes up after taking a nap and her daughter’s gone. And it was really interesting for me because, I was like, I’ve never played a mother before. I don’t have kids myself, what would I do if somebody that I could equate to the little, the little girl who was absolutely incredible, she’s so cute. Her name is Kam, Hi Kam! Hopefully she’ll see this. She was so adorable and I, I just was trying to equate like who would I just be completely devastated, shocked, to see isn’t there anymore. Not because they left of their own accord but because they were taken. And it was very interesting to have to reach deepdown. I remember at one point we were shooting my scene and I was so, I was so overwhelmed and nervous because I kept forgetting my lines when we were practicing and rehearsing and everybody was so great trying to calm me down but I was so nervous because my character was literally in hysterics. She’s sobbing, she thinks that, you know, everybody has been a part of it and aren’t telling her and I remember standing there we got the lines out but I remember being so deep into that scene that I literally could not stop myself and bring myself out of that base for about 20 minutes after the scene was shot. And it was just really interesting. I grew so much as a person in how I was relating to her, how I wasn’t like her, you know and just being in the situation with all the amazing actors on the plane in the first class cabin, I will say. It was just very, it was a very interesting and amazing experience to be able to dive that deep into a character.

Moderator: Do you think that young people can relate to this movie? What do you think they’ll get from it? Will they enjoy it? Is it something they should also go out and see?

Jordin Sparks: I think the great thing about this movie in that this movie has the opportunity to do, is because of the people that they have brought into the film, they have the ability to have people from all over come in and see the movie whether they are believers, whether they’re nonbelievers. Whether they are agnostic, whether they you know, don’t believe in anything, or you know it doesn’t even matter. They have the opportunity to have so many different people come in and watch this. And I’m, I’m excited for my fans to come in and see it as well because whether they know of the story of the rapture from the bible, or they’ve watched, what is that show, the show The Leftovers is kind of similar where people just disappear you know. Everybody’s kind of, I think everybody can relate to imagining, like what if somebody that I loved wasn’t around anymore, in an instant? And it can definitely happen, whether it is through, you know being taken up in the rapture or, you know, a tragic accident you know, life isn’t promised to us here, you know, tomorrow is not promised and I think everybody can relate to that so I think it’s going to be really cool to see all the different types of people that come in to see this film and for everybody to just be able to start a conversation afterwards. Go Wow, that was really interesting, I wonder what A, B, C, and D is. So I’m excited for my fans to come see it. I’m excited for, you know maybe to gain some fans from other people that come and see the movie as well. So you know, it’s going to be great for all of us I think.

Here are some final thoughts on this movie, which I think sums up perfectly the goals of Producer/Writer Paul LaLonde for making this movie in the first place:

According to the Paul LaLonde, “for people who are, who are bible believing Christians and who, who truly believe this event could happen any day, it’s a wonderful story in that sense. In that they’re seeing it’s a true story. And they’re getting to see it in advance and that’s a great thing but for the people who don’t necessarily either believe in the rapture or even believe the bible is true at all, it’s still a wonderful movie because it allows you to ask yourself, Ok what if it did happen? I mean, I mean half the people in the United States believe it’s going to happen so, what if it did? And I think that’s the opportunity that, that you have in this movie is to sort of experience the world of the people who are LEFT BEHIND, the people who didn’t believe any of it.”… “That’s really what the focus of the movie is, is what if it did happen? What would it be like that day?


You want good conversation, and something to really contemplate? I would say, go see “Left Behind”!

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About the Author

I am a work from home mom who dearly loves her 15-year-old daughter, 11-year-old boy/girl twins, and husband. I love my life and feel very blessed by what God has provided for me.

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