Wes Bentley never imagined that another role in Hollywood would reconnect him to God as he faced all the “dragons” in his life.
He is best known for his role in “American Beauty” as the archetype teenager filming a bag blowing in the wind. But very few knew that before reaching stardom and starring in the new movie, “There Be Dragons,” he was raised, “literally in a church building” where both his parents were Methodist preachers.
“Yes, both my parents were preachers (Methodist), including my brother. I think when you are raised in a church and literally raised in a church building you are surrounded by spirituality and also religion, leaving a kid with a lot of challenges and questions,” he shared with The Christian Post.
Growing up in a spiritual environment only led the 34-year-old actor to think he inherited the faith, he said. “I always assumed I had a relationship with God, I always assumed I had that wrapped up so I didn’t even have to consider that that might not be the case and might also be what made my life more difficult.”
The assumption made him devoid of a faith and left him unprotected from many demons following his sudden popularity. “In the assumption I just pushed it away and I had to really consider where I was spiritually. I feel like I inherited the faith. And I think a lot of PKs go through that.”
For years he struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction, among other things, and in an unexpected setting, he found himself out of it.
In his role as Manolo in “There Be Dragons,” based on the story of the life of Spanish St. Josemaria Escriva, who founded the controversial Catholic order Opus Dei during the Spanish Civil War, Bentley found his salvation from his substance problems, particularity during a scene where Manolo asks for forgiveness.
“I was getting dressed up and getting make-up for older Manolo. When I was preparing for the scene where I am telling my son all the terrible things I had done and asking him to pray for me and forgive me and I looked at the mirror and I had a really powerful moment and realized, I don’t want to be in my deathbed doing this and I needed to make amends to people in my life that loved me and loved them,” he shared.
“I had things to tell them, things that were embarrassing that made me feel like not like a human being, and in that moment I realized, I want to do this, I want to do this now while I’m young. “
As a father himself, he realized that it was better to prepare himself slowly and one day tell them about his past mistakes, an unavoidable moment because he knows they will have questions due to his celebrity status. Confidently he said, “But I see it as a benefit; I don’t see it as a challenge.”
After going through this change he was happy to report, “I was so excited to realize what was wrong, to admit to that because it just solved all these problems for me immediately.”
The actor said he has reconnected with God, though he didn’t provide specifics, and he continues to explore faith.
Being open about his new-found faith and his past addiction, he hopes to inspire people and remind them that there is a way of out from “living in such a dark place.”
“I don’t feel ashamed to tell others. I thought that by talking about it, it would help others who might’ve been where I was a little while before me. It also helped remind [me] of that and also keep away from it.”
“There Be Dragons,” directed by Roland Joffe, tells the story of Manolo and Josemaría (Charlie Cox) who were inseparable friends until the Spanish Civil War took them on two radical paths. Manolo became a fascist spy while Josemaría embraced his faith and decided to take the Catholic Holy orders and become a priest. Between the anger, death, betrayal and jealousy birthed during the war, there also existed faith, love, compassion and above all, forgiveness when life was in its darkest moments for both Manolo and Josemaría.
The film opened in theaters Friday.