Interview by Paul Salfen
In this interview, actor Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Lonnie Frisbee in THE JESUS REVOLUTION, talks about his role as the charismatic evangelist hippie who was instrumental in starting the Jesus Movement in the 60’s.
He also touches on how surrendering his ego helped lead him to the role he is most known for, playing Jesus of Nazareth in THE CHOSEN, which is the largest crowd-funded movie in history.
In the 1970s, young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) is searching for all the right things in all the wrong places: until he meets Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), a charismatic hippie-street-preacher. Together with Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer), they open the doors of Smith’s languishing church to an unexpected revival of radical and newfound love, leading to a JESUS REVOLUTION that changed the world.
“Is God Dead?” So proclaimed the cover of TIME Magazine in 1966 , a stark pronouncement on a bleak background that seemed to herald a new, godless era in American history. Four years later, the tide had turned. The summer of 1971 saw the same magazine place a groovy Jesus over a psychedelic backdrop under a very different phrase: THE JESUS REVOLUTION. What happened in those four years is the story of an unlikely friendship between a disillusioned young man on a quest for meaning and the hippie-street-preacher who would inspire him to start a movement that would transform the entire nation. JESUS REVOLUTION tells the remarkable story of two men who had nothing in common except a belief that faith could change the world, and a community of young people whose lives they would transform together.
In the film in 1969, 17-year-old Greg Laurie (The Kissing Booth’s Joel Courtney) falls in with the surging counterculture movement in Southern California, joining them to help spread their message of peace and love in a nation in the midst of unprecedented social upheaval. While he’s drawn to the hippies’ vision of revolutionary change (and to the very pretty young Cathe), Laurie can’t shake the sense that his new community doesn’t have all the answers.
There’s got to be more to life than sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, right? Meanwhile, Pastor Chuck Smith (Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award winner Kelsey Grammer) is struggling to keep both his church and his hope for a new generation alive. Faced with an aging congregation and a youth movement he doesn’t understand, Smith is almost ready to accept a new status as an irrelevant fossil. That is, until he meets Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie, The Chosen), a barefoot, unwashed radical who thinks that Chuck’s church and the local hippie community have a lot to learn from each other. This uneasy alliance between a group of old, conservative church members and a loose knit collective of young revolutionaries sparked a radical new chapter in America’s history. Armed with unconditional love and an unorthodox approach to timeless truths, the “Jesus People,” as they came to be known, created a towering legacy that continues to shape our world today.
“JESUS REVOLUTION has been a film that I’ve wanted to make for a very long time,” says co-director Jon Erwin. “My generation has never experienced anything like this, and I want to experience it.”