EntErtainmEnt by Matt Conner Actor: Wes Bentley Art imitates life. So goes the common saying, but in Wes Bentley’s case, it’s the other way around. On the set of his latest theatrical release, There Be Dragons, actor Wes Bentley (American Beauty, Ghost Rider) experienced a complete life change. Surprisingly it mirrored the progression of his character, setting the stage for restoration to be played out in several areas of Bentley’s life. The first step, however, was getting clean before anything else could happen. “I actually got sober while filming There Be Dragons,” says Bentley. “Before the film, I was doing so many drugs and I was so close to physical death that I was counting my days. I could tell that if I didn’t stop I would die. At the beginning of filming, I was feeling terrible. I was so trapped in my secrets, in my isolation and my own anger and guilt that I could not act. To be a good actor you have to be honest but you can’t be honest and explore your character’s soul if you don’t explore yours.” As he explored his on-screen persona alongside his own, Bentley discovered that both needed the forgiveness drawn out in the story of two childhood friends set in the Spanish Civil War. As redemption comes to the surface for Manolo, his character, it also manifested at the same time in Bentley’s life. “My character Manolo and I are similar in that we made dark choices and did bad things, all because we lost a real relationship with God,” says Bentley. “Manolo was trying so hard to be something that he was nothing. His actions were always so self-serving and I was just like him. I myself have been self-serving, selfish, looking for the glory, especially when I got every piece of it, and I did things that hurt those around me. I was a broken person. “There is a scene where Manolo is in a hospital bed asking for forgiveness,” he continues. “While filming this scene I hadn’t yet even had a chance to talk to my family or to those I had hurt and there were a lot of things that Manolo said that were really hitting home. We did this scene before I chose to be sober, and I remember sitting there and thinking that I don’t want to wait till I’m in my deathbed to call everybody here. I don’t want to be dying and realize that I’ve made terrible choices and that I have hurt so many people to such a degree. I want to do it now.” For most actors, the work on a film is an artistic exercise and a way to pay the bills. In Bentley’s case, There Be Dragons ultimately provided a complete reorientation that will never leave him the same. “It was a spiritual experience, a truly freeing experience of admitting who I was, who I really was, really looking at myself, and knowing that I was doing everything wrong. I had a very strong spiritual experience on this film and I found a reconnection to God.” FilM For more inFo visit dragonresources.com 54 CCM