When King & Country’s Joel Smallbone was a teenager, he had two big interests: music and film. He would sing and play music with his younger brother and make films with his older brother.
But these weren’t high-quality productions.
“There were like awful Super 8 camera videos, with us galivanting through my parent’s backyard, shooting deplorable versions of Indiana Jones,” Smallbone told SCENES. “We loved it.”
Smallbone has spent much of his adult life pursing his passion for music, as King & Country, a Christian contemporary group, has won two Grammys and four GMA Dove Awards. But last year he starred in a romantic thriller, Priceless (PG-13), that spotlights human trafficking. It received an 87 percent audience rating at RottenTomatoes.com and was released this month on DVD.
For his acting debut Smallbone played a man named James, who is starved for cash and agrees to drive a truck cross-country without knowing anything about the cargo, only to discover that he was transporting two women.
It was directed by his older brother, Ben. (His younger brother, Luke, forms the other half of the King & Country tandem.)
The film was inspired by true events and gets its name from the belief that women are not to be objectified and are priceless, he said.
“I have always felt that it is a love story in three parts,” he said of the movie’s plot. “It’s the love story between a father and daughter. It’s a great love story between two sisters and the sacrifice of the sisters. And in the end, it’s a love story between a man and a woman. The fact that a life can be bought, that a human can be bought, is the antithesis of this notion that every life is priceless.”
But even though the movie touches on human trafficking, it is not graphic.
“There were a lot of nips and tucks in the editing process,” Smallbone said. “We felt like we needed to walk a tightrope. We wanted to shed light on this but not glorify it. At the same time, we wanted to leave enough mystery for people to fill in the blank but also create a conversation. We were trying to find the right balance, for sure.”
Priceless might not be Smallbone’s final acting gig.
“I’m not sure I want to act for the sake of acting, but if it’s the right character and the right story and the right sentiment, then I would love it,” he said. “I think it’s such a wonderful, fun, impacting medium that culturally we as a society resonate with almost more than anything.”