John Schneider, the one-time star of TV sensation “The Dukes of Hazzard,” can be seen in theaters now in a film that “Bo Duke” says is timed perfectly for Father’s Day.
As WND reported, Schneider plays the estranged dad of a struggling teen in “Hardflip,” an edgy, skateboarding movie featuring some of the sports’ biggest stars, openly proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ.
In an exclusive interview, Schneider, a self-proclaimed Christian and father of three, told WND the story of why the script for “Hardflip” is so relevant to dads.
“I started doing movies where I played fathers, with ‘Night of the Twisters’ [in 1996], when I had just become a father myself,” Schneider told WND. “And I realized there were a lot of people saying, ‘There’s no manual for this!’ Especially when kids get into their teenage years, it can be really frustrating.”
“Then ‘Smallville’ came along, a great opportunity to explore the father-son relationship, forgiveness, listening, advice taken and advice not taken,” he continued. “When a script like ‘Hardflip’ comes along, with a real depiction of the rewards of a father-son relationship but also the difficulties of building one, you have my attention.
“In ‘Hardflip,’ you have a relationship where the father and son haven’t seen each other in 18 years, but they find they’re very alike: pigheaded, stubborn, passionate. It’s a wonderful story of how you can’t get away from how similar you and your children are. You’re alike, regardless of the time and distance between you,” Schneider said.
And though “Hardflip” made its theater debut just last weekend, the film is already having an impact.
“I just did an interview with another gentleman who was very moved by it,” Schneider told WND. “He’s not even married, no children, but he was nearly in tears when talking about this father-son relationship. I have a feeling the film must have reminded him of his father, grandfather.
“That is really where the rubber meets the road – to quote a ‘Dukes’ phrase – when people come to you with tears in their eyes because they just saw something you were a part of,” Schneider said. “I was in San Diego when it opened, and people were fairly emotional about the ride that is ‘Hardflip.’ I appreciate that. When you are in a room full of people, many will say nice things (not always true) about your movies, but tears and true, raw emotion don’t lie.”
More films like ‘Hardflip’?
Schneider, who also starred in “October Baby,” a powerful film about a child who survived abortion, told WND that there has been a major shift in Hollywood, allowing more and more films with positive family and faith messages to be made – but he also warned that many Christians, through ignorance of the Hollywood machine, are actually undermining these films’ success.
“Advancements in technology have really helped,” Schneider explained. “It’s easier to make a movie now than ever before, less costly. You can make a really good film for under a million dollars, like ‘October Baby,’ or under a half million, like ‘Hardflip.’
“A financial shift happened with ‘Facing the Giants’ and ‘Fireproof,’ where movies that were faith-based films were profitable. And people in Hollywood – like people in downtown USA – are out to make money,” Schneider explained. “And faith-based, inspirational films are making money because they’re getting better, the scripts are better.
“The only chink in the armor here, however, is that people must go support these films right away,” Schneider stressed. “There’s this mistaken belief that when a film comes along that seems like an answer to prayer about what’s wrong with Hollywood, Christian audiences wait to buy it when it comes out on DVD. But that’s not how it works! In order for there to be more films like the ones we want to see, the movies have to make noise at the box office.
“That’s why ‘October Baby’ was the talk of Hollywood for a month,” Schneider continued. “It outlasted ‘John Carter,’ it outlasted ‘Battleship,’ which cost $300 million to make. People have to actually drive to the movie theater. They have got to, got to, got to go support it, because it sends a financial message back to Hollywood.
“If you wait until it comes out on DVD, that’s no good,” Schneider explained, “because it’s a different branch, a different arm of the distribution business.”
Besides just seeing the film in theaters, Schneider also says audiences need to take advantage of social media and the power of word-of-mouth.
“When people actually go and see the movie and say, ‘You’ve got to see this, it’s amazing,’ that’s as important as a billboard or a television ad,” he said. “What does not help is just buying a ticket and not going. See the movie and further its good reputation with word-of-mouth.”
As for Schneider’s future, the “Hardflip” star gave WND a sneak peak into what may be coming next.
Schneider said he’s mostly exhausted the “sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with Dad” roles, but he still has a passion for exploring the father-son relationship. In fact, he’s working on writing a project currently titled “Bad Blood” that portrays a cruel prosecuting attorney whose son is on trial for murder. Schneider promises it’s a dark tale, and a bit “more theatrical” than “Smallville,” but still a powerful look at the nature and nurture that goes into being a dad.
Not just into portraying fathers, Schneider has caught the bug for writing about fathers, too.
“I wrote the last episode of ‘Dukes of Hazard,’” the man known to almost every boy growing up in the ’80s as “Bo Duke” said, “and I have been writing ever since.”
Finally, Schneider had a few last words for WND readers in the interview: “Happy Father’s Day.”