In Kirk Cameron’s new movie, “Fireproof,” he has to kiss the actress playing his wife. That was a problem.
Cameron will not kiss any woman who is not his wife.
“I have a commitment not to kiss any other woman,” the former child star of “Growing Pains” told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford Monday on TODAY in New York.
To get around the conflict, the filmmakers employed a bit of movie magic, Cameron explained. They dressed his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, like the movie’s female lead and shot the scene in silhouette.
“So when I’m kissing my wife, we’re actually husband and wife honoring marriage behind the scenes,” Cameron said as Gifford and Kotb melted from the romanticism of the moment.
An atheist growing up, Cameron became an evangelical Christian at the age of 17 while he was playing Mike Seaver on the popular sitcom “Growing Pains.” Noble was a co-star and his girlfriend on the show.
They fell in love in real life and married in 1991, when Cameron was 20 and Noble was 26. Today the couple have six children ranging in age from 5 to 12, including four who were adopted.
Cameron began acting at the age of 9 and became a star on “Growing Pains” at the age of 14. Once he converted to Christianity, he sometimes clashed with his fellow cast members and the show’s producers over what he felt were immoral story lines.
Today, he told first Meredith Vieira and then Gifford and Kotb, he chooses projects and movies that he believes in. His newest movie is an example. “Fireproof,” he said, “is an action-packed love story. It’s about a firefighter. He’s on the brink of a divorce.”
Cameron feels the movie exemplifies his beliefs. “The reason this movie was important to me personally is because I love my wife dearly,” he said. “We’ve been married for 17 years … and we have six children. So marriage is a very special and sacred thing to us. In a day and age where marriage is falling apart, we want to make movies and projects that really uphold and have a high view of that which is beautiful and wonderful in our culture.”
Learning to love
Cameron’s character, Caleb Holt, is saved by his father, who gives him a book titled “Love Dare” that presents a challenge a day for 40 days designed to teach him how to love.
“He’s a kind of a jerk,” Cameron says of his character. “He’s a hero in his community … but his marriage is going up in flames.”
The love dare, he explained, “challenges him to do one thing every day that really exemplifies the true nature of love. Patience, kindness, gentleness.”
What began as a plot device in the movie has been turned into a real book. Cameron told Kotb and Gifford that there have been 500,000 pre-orders for the book, which has yet to be released.
“The ‘Love Dare’ book is really a kind of a plot device that turned into a treasure for husbands and wives,” he said. “What it does is it teaches you the essence of love. Don’t tell my wife, but I’m reading the book myself, and it’s really great.”
Cameron has an evangelical ministry called “The Way of the Master” with evangelist Ray Comfort, along with a camp for terminally ill children, Camp Firefly. He has starred in three movies adopted from the “Left Behind” books, a series of apocalyptic novels that is popular with fundamentalist Christians.
While many of his fellow child stars have gone through addictions and personal crises, Cameron has stayed on the straight and narrow.
“I realize now how challenging it was back then,” he told Vieira. “But when you’re growing up in a fishbowl, and that’s all you know, that’s normal to you. But when you look at a lot of child stars, you see the difficulty that it presented them. I’m thankful for my family, for good friends, and a strong faith in God that helped me navigate through a lot of that stuff.”
Vieira asked the actor if he’d allow his kids to go into show business.
“I don’t think that growing up in the entertainment industry is the healthiest place for kids,” Cameron replied. “The track record kind of shows that.”
Still, he added, “My kids all love being silly and goofy.” And his 10-year-old daughter, Anna, is especially talented.
“Anna is destined to be a singer or an actress,” he said with pride. “She’s got it.”