In addition to the film's pertinent and relevant message, another much-talked about element is Michael W. Smith's acting debut. Known for more than 20 years as one of Christian music's most popular artists and worship leaders with hits including "Secret Ambition," "Place in This World," and "Above All," the jury's still out on whether he's the next George Clooney. But Taylor couldn't be happier with the selection of Smith for his project.

"I have to say that [casting him] wasn't my idea initially. It was Ben Pearson, one of the writers of the script who's known Michael for a long time," Taylor says. "So they had talked, and he knew that Michael always wanted to act. So, when Ben brought this idea up, my question was everyone's question, ‘Can he act?' So we met with him, and he was really enthusiastic. We then spent an afternoon working through some scenes. And I kept feeling that he could take direction and do a good job.

"Then the question came, ‘If Michael's got a dark side, I haven't seen it.' I've known him for a long time, and he's a genuinely nice guy. But this character … starts off as not a particularly nice guy. So I was really happy with the way Michael let us sort of play with the persona of a Christian pastor who's in the spotlight and kind of see behind the scenes. Certainly not all pastors are like that, or even most pastors aren't like that, but in the case of Michael's character, he starts out doing things primarily kind of for the camera. And that's where the conflict starts early on, and I think Michael did a really good job of immersing himself in this character who is not like Michael at all. He brought a lot to the role and I'm really happy with the job he did. It was really hard for him to be mean. There were times when he really didn't know what to do, so I had to come up with something kind of artificial to draw him into it. I've never seen him angry. So for him to come in and confront Jake's character was not in his nature."

And it's this honest look at the church, and its often misplaced priorities, that Taylor hopes will ultimately appeal to churched and non-churched audiences alike. "Not everyone would agree on this, but I feel really strongly about this, there's some people that would say, ‘Aren't you showing the church warts and all when you tell a story like this? Aren't you airing our dirty laundry?'

And I'm like, ‘Are you kidding me? You think people outside the church don't already know that?' The problem is that they think we don't know it. They think we're blind to all that stuff. So I think that when people outside of our faith see a movie like this, they have an entirely different take on it. They actually really appreciate it; and it actually opens their minds and hearts to looking at Christianity a different way because we see there are problems. They see that we're not happy with it either and have some work to do.

"I think that's probably where a lot of Christian movies fall short - they're simple-minded stories that don't really have an anchor in reality. We're trying really hard to come up with something that felt true to life. It's really hard to tell a redemptive story without a basis in reality."


Directed by Steve Taylor and starring Michael W. Smith, J. Don Ferguson and jeff obafemi carr, "The Second Chance" opens in limited release in theaters this Friday, February 17, 2006.  Click here for more information.

Clips courtesy of Sony Pictures.