Lucas Black on prioritizing God, family over Hollywood career: 'I stand up for the Gospel'

Lucas Black appears alongside Candace Cameron Bure in 'Unsung Hero'
Lucas Black appears alongside Candace Cameron Bure in "Unsung Hero" | Lionsgate/Kingdom Story Company

When actor Lucas Black chose to end his time on "NCIS: New Orleans" in 2019, it was to put his family first — a decision, five years later, he's never regretted. 

"I chose to step away from 'NCIS New Orleans' because the schedule was long hours and gruesome," the 41-year-old father-of-three told The Christian Post.

"There was only a short period of time I could sacrifice that time away from my family before I knew it was going to be a problem. So my wife and I discussed that, and we had a plan going into it. There was a time I had to step away because enough was enough."

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"As men and husbands and fathers, it's innate in us that we want to provide and protect, and sometimes, those can get in the way of the relationships that mean the most to us. If we're focused too much on our career, usually our relationships with our wives, spouse or kids are going to suffer. I've thought about that in my life. There's got to be some healthy margin in your life."

According to the Alabama native, he sees elements of his own story in that of David Smallbone, father to brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone of the Grammy Award-winning Christian band For King and Country and Rebecca, better known as singer-songwriter Rebecca St. James. 

The Smallbone's story is told in the forthcoming film "Unsung Hero," which documents how David Smallbone, after his company collapses in his home country of Australia, moves his wife and six children — with one on the way — to Nashville, Tennessee, in the hopes of a brighter future. 

However, the American dream doesn't initially materialize, and David struggles as he tries to care for his large family while finances dwindle away and work opportunities continually fall through. It's through prayer, uniting together as a family, and relying on the support of their local community that the Smallbone family eventually finds success in the Christian music industry. 

Black, best known for his starring roles in the "The Fast and the Furious" franchise and for starring in "Friday Night Lights," plays Jed Albright in "Unsung Hero," a local church member who welcomes the Smallbone family into his Nashville home along with his wife, Kay (Candace Cameron Bure). 

Directed by Joel Smallbone and Richard Ramsey, the cast of "Unsung Hero" also includes Joel Smallbone playing his father, Daisy Betts, Kirrilee Berger, Lady A's Hillary Scott and "Nashville" star Jonathan Jackson.

"This is a story that Americans are hungry for. We need more wholesome content like this," Black said. "This is a story about family and faith. The Smallbone family, when they came over here, faced adversity. They had to stick together as a family to make ends meet, and they took a leap of faith in doing so. They know that the most important relationships in their lives are, number one, with their heavenly Father, but also their family. This is something that should be told; it honors all the mothers out there. I'm honored to be a part of it."

Though a faith-based film, "Unsung Hero" honestly portrays David Smallbone's struggles and how the support and resilience of his wife, Helen, held the family together despite challenges. It's the truthful retelling of their experience, both the good and the bad, Black said, that makes the film so impactful. 

"This is real-life stuff. He's struggling, getting in his own way, and not being the leader he should be. His wife is still there by his side, supporting him through it all. He has a moment where he loses it, but then he reconciles with his family, apologizing and receiving their forgiveness with open arms. It's a beautiful thing, and it's something we all can relate to," he shared.

With its focus on traditional family values, Black said "Unsung Hero" offers audiences a chance to reconnect with moral standards that may seem countercultural in today's climate.

"It's not always easy to stick it out with your spouse, but it's worth it. There's a temptation to put your own happiness first, but this movie shows the beauty of working through tough times and coming out stronger on the other side," he said.

With decades of experience and big-budget films under his belt, Black's criteria for choosing projects have shifted since he left Hollywood's high-pressure scene. As a family man and a Christian, he told CP he looks for stories that align with his values.

"I'm looking for stories that uplift, encourage and promote Christian values. They should point people to God and highlight the importance of family. That's why I like Kingdom Story Company — they're producing good, wholesome content, and we need more of that."

Despite the success of faith-based films like "Jesus Revolution," "Ordinary Angels" and "Sound of Freedom," Black is cautious about whether Hollywood will embrace this shift toward family-friendly content.

"I think they see the demand, but there's still a deliberate agenda they want to push. My hope is that they will change, but I'm not sure if they really care about the dollar as much as their agendas," he said.

"For us that are watching these films. I want you guys to be aware of that," he added. "As hard as it may be, we may have to choose to turn the channel or not watch a certain movie because … certain agendas that that they are trying to push. But I think if [these projects] flunk and they start losing lots of dollars, there might be a change, but I don't know."

Living out his beliefs in the public eye hasn't always been easy — he's faced criticism for his conservative viewpoints — but Black said the encouragement he receives from fellow believers outweighs any backlash. 

"I pray about what God wants me to do," he said. "He's spoken to me to be an encourager to the Body of Christ. There's more positive that comes out of being bold about my faith than we can ever really imagine. But most of it comes from people who are in the body of Christ and believers who tell me how thankful they are that I stand up for what I believe in, I stand up for the Gospel, and I am resilient."

"I want to point people to Christ and hopefully make an impact to win lost souls," he said. "But to those who are already believers, want to encourage them to stand strong in their faith and to be bold and to edify the Church."

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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