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Made-for-television movies and miniseries with minor LDS characters and references are listed separately alongside theatrically-released feature films with minor Latter-day Saint characters and references
In the listings below, the names of actors playing Latter-day Saint/Mormon characters are shown in bold.
Angels in America (2003; HBO)
Directed by Mike Nichols. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tony Kushner. LDS/GLBT-themed fantasy drama about the AIDS epidemic in American GLBT culture; set in New York City during the 1980s. Three of the main characters are Latter-day Saints. Received multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards and nominations for actors playing Latter-day Saint characters: Patrick Wilson as conservative GLBT LDS lawyer Joe Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker as Joe's wife Harper Pitt and Meryl Streep for her role as a Joe's mother Hannah.
The Elizabeth Smart Story (2003; CBS)
Directed by Bobby Roth. Written by Nancey Silvers. Based on actual events. Elizabeth Smart (Amber Marshall), a Latter-day Saint teenager, is kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home by Brian Mitchell (Tom Everett), a deranged homeless man and self-styled "prophet" who called himself "Emmanuel" and his wife Wanda Barzee (Hollis McLaren). Emmanual was raised as a Latter-day Saint, but was no longer part of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He held highly unorthodox, polygamous beliefs and had been excommunicated from the Church. Elizabeth's parents Ed Smart (Dylan Baker) and Lois Smart (Lindsay Frost), along with their siblings (Hannah Lochner, Tyler Kyte, Jacob Kraemer, Luke MacInnis) struggle to lead the search for Elizabeth and hold out hope that she will be found alive. Miraculously, Elizabeth is found many months after being kidnapped, having been held captive in the forested foothills not far from her home.
The Laramie Project (2002; HBO)
Written and directed by Moises Kaufman, adapting the play he co-wrote along with othes at Tectonic Theatre. Small-screen adaptation of a popular play based on facts and myths surrounding the Matthew Shephard killing in Laramie, Wyoming. One of the story's three central characters is Russell Henderson (a lapsed Wyoming Mormon, played by actor Garrett Neergaard). Henderson was present when Aaron McKinney (played by Mark Webber) beat Matthew Shepherd. Henderson tried to stop McKinney, but backed down when McKinney attacked him as well. Henderson was arrested for his involvement in the crime, and ended up incarcerated, receiving two life sentences, after he plea bargained in order avoid facing the death penalty. In the play (but omitted from the HBO film version) is a scene in which Henderson is visited by his home teacher from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The HBO version does mention that Henderson was excommunicated from the Church, which strongly condemns all anti-gay violence, persecution and intolerance.
Shot in the Heart (2001; HBO)
Directed by Agnieszka Holland. Teleplay by Frank Pugliese. Based on Mikal Gilmore's autobiographical book biopic about himself and his executed brother Gary Gilmore (Elias Koteas). Deals with the topic of capital punishment. Mikal and Gary were raised in a dysfunctional half-Catholic/half-Mormon family. Gary was executed for murdering two Latter-day Saint men. Mikal is played by Giovanni Ribisi. Paul Wesley (as Paul Wasilewski) plays Gary as a teenager and Trevor Gosden plays Mikal as a boy. Sam Shepard plays Gary and Mikal's abusive, alcoholic Catholic father. Lee Tergesen, Brett Fleisher, Matthew Armstrong, Amy Madigan, Robby Ost, Evan Knapp, and Naomi Kline also play members of the Gilmore family. Also starring Anne Kathryn Parma, Ashley Edwards, Evyn Clark.
Door to Door (2002; TNT)
Directed by Steven Schachter. Teleplay by William H. Macy and Steven Schachter. Kyra Sedgwick stars as "Shelly Brady," a Latter-day Saint woman who hires handicapped but inspirational Bill Porter. Michael Shanks has a small role as Shelly's husband, also a Latter-day Saint. Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-winning film, based on a true story chronicled in the book Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter, by a Latter-day Saint author Shelly Brady.
The Princess and the Marine (2001; NBC)
Directed by Mike Robe. Written by Ronni Kern. True story of Latter-day Saint returned missionary Jason Johnson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) who, as a Marine stationed in Bahrain, fell in love with a princess, Meriam Al-Khalifa (Marisol Nichols), and helped her flee that country to the U.S., where they got married.
Inside the Osmonds (2001; ABC)
Directed by Neill Fearnley. Written by Matt Dorff. True story of the Osmond family, devout Latter-day Saints who became one of the world's most popular music groups in the 70s. They maintained their high ethical values, but experienced conflict and sibling rivalry when the younger family members, Donny and Marie, starred in the family's hit TV show and eclipsed the rock-and-roll fame of the older brothers. Bruce McGill, Veronica Cartwright, Joel Berti, Trevor Blumas, Ryan Kirkpatrick, Jason Knight, Miklos Perlus, Patrick Levis, Thomas Dekker, Janaya Stephens, Taylin Wilson, Taylor Abrahamse, Milt Bruchanski and Shane Davidson star as members of the Osmond family at various ages. Barclay Hope has a small part as real-life LDS television director Jack Regas.
The Last Dance (2000; CBS)
Directed by Kevin Dowling. Based on Latter-day Saint writer Todd F. Cope's autobiographical story "The Shift." Television story by Beth Polson. Teleplay by Dalene Young. Tagline: A retired teacher in need of a friend. A former student in need of guidance. Together, they discover that life is a lesson you learn by heart. Summary: Cope tenderly expresses the unspoken love between teacher and student in his portrayal of how a loving teacher quietly directs a young boy, unpopular and ridiculed by his peers, towards the self confidence and self respect necessary for success in life. Readers of all ages will be uplifted and inspired by this heart-warming story. Eric Stoltz stars as "Todd Cope." Maureen O'Hara plays "Helen Parker," the teacher. Trini Alvarado, Matt Weinberg and Channing Carson co-star as Cope's family members. Charles Robinson, Paul Johansson and Deirdre Quinn also co-star.
Children of Fortune (2000; CBS)
Directed by Sheldon Larry. Written by Joel Blasberg. Starring James Brolin, Virginia Madsen, Amanda Fuller, Michael Moriarty. Murder mystery starring Brolin as a detective and a single father who takes his estranged 15-year-old daughter with him on an investigation that leads them into a small Arizona town of polygamists. Characters specifically identify themselves as former Latter-day Saints.
bash: latter-day plays (2000; Showtime)
Written and directed by Latter-day Saint playwright/filmmaker Neil LaBute. Starring Ron Eldard, Calista Flockhart and Paul Rudd. This isn't a movie in the traditional sense, but is actually a filmed version of LaBute's Broadway stage play "bash" (also titled "A Gaggle of Saints"), which is really three unconnected but thematically-related one-act plays, performed mostly through monologue. "A Gaggle of Saints" is about a gay-bashing incident in Central Park. "Medea Redux" and "Iphigenia in Orem" are both about infanticide. The characters are all Latter-day Saints who commit shockingly violent acts. The play is an exploration of the potential for evil within all people, and is not "about" Latter-day Saints in particular. The characters do evil things despite the fact that they are part of a highly ethical, moral religious culture. LaBute chose to write the characters as Latter-day Saints primarily because that was the culture he was a part of and knew well. After the Latter-day Saint background of the characters caused confusion in viewers unfamiliar with the Church, LaBute re-wrote the play to make the characters "generic," omitting all LDS references. But the special that aired on Showtime was the original version.
Riders of the Purple Sage (1996; TNT)
Adaptation of Zane Gray's classic Western novel about Latter-day Saints. Directed by Charles Haid. Teleplay by Gill Dennis. Actors playing major characters who are Latter-day Saints (at least in the novel) include: Amy Madigan as "Jane Withersteen", Robin Tunney as "Elizabeth 'Bess' Erne" (the Masked Rider), Norbert Weisser as "Deacon Tull" (Jane's suitor), G.D. Spradlin as "Pastor Dyer", Lynn Wanlass as "Hester Brandt" (Jane's maid), Bob L. Harris as "Collier Brandt" and Rusty Musselman as "Matthew Blake." Ed Harris stars as "Jim Lassiter."
A Loss of Innocence (1996; ABC)
Directed by Graeme Clifford. Teleplay by Joyce Eliason (who was raised as a Latter-day Saint). Adapted from Latter-day Saint novelist Virginia Sorensen's novel On This Star. Jennie Garth ("Kelly Taylor" on "Beverly Hills 90210") stars as a young Latter-day Saint woman in a period romance set in 1920's Rural Utah.
The Avenging Angel (1995; TNT)
Directed by Craig R. Baxley. Teleplay written by Dennis Nemec. Adapted from novel by Gary Stewart. Tom Berenger plays a Latter-day Saint bodyguard assigned to protect Brigham Young, the 2nd president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (played by Charlton Heston), who has been targeted by terrorists. James Coburn co-stars as Porter Rockwell. Also features actors Fay Masterson, Kevin Tighe, Jeffrey Jones, Tom Bower, Leslie Hope, Daniel Quinn, Andrew Prine, Richard Jewkes, Chelsea Berenger, Chloe Berenger, Wayne Brennan, Bus Riley, David Jensen, Mary-Cristina Schaub, and Sarah Schaub.
Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography (1994; FOX)
Directed by Paul Schneider. Written by Karen Harris. Poorly reviewed biopic about Roseanne, the famed LDS/Mormon comedian alternatively known as "Roseanne Barr", "Roseanne Arnold", etc. Denny Dillon stars as the adult Roseanne. Dawn Zeek plays Roseanne as an adolescent, a time when she was living in Utah and still active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I haven't not seen this TV movie, so I do not yet know how (or if) it depicts Roseanne's involvement in the Church. David Graf stars as Roseanne's one-time husband Tom Arnold. Judith Scarpone stars as Roseanne's mother Helen Barr, who, like Roseanne, was Jewish but was also active in the Church. Both mother and daughter were known locally as "Jewish Mormons." Also starring: John Walcutt, Joycelyn O'Brien, Sara Melson, John Karlen, Matt Landers.
Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes (1994)
Directed by Richard A. Colla. Written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner. Biopic about Roseanne, the famed LDS/Mormon comedian (also known as "Roseanne Barr") and her marriage to actor Tom Arnold (played by actor Stephen Lee). Patrika Darbo stars as Roseanne. Jane Capra Kronenberg plays Roseanne's mother Helen Barr (who, like Roseanne, was also active in the LDS Church while Roseanne was growing up in Salt Lake City).
A Place to be Loved (1993)
Also known as "Shattered Family" (UK title). Directed by Sandy Smolan. Written by Blair Ferguson. True story of 11-year old Gregory K who is taken in for foster care by a Mormon family with eight kids. He decides to divorce his negligent biological mother. Gregory is played by Tom Guiry. Executive producer: Beth Polson. Featuring: Richard Crenna, Rhea Perlman, Linda Kelsey, Cotter Smith, Joycelyn O'Brien, Cyril O'Reilly, Sam Anderson, Amy Aquino, Adilah Barnes, Gary Bayer, David Tom, Lezlie Deane, Elizabeth Dennehy, Hayley Carr.
Prophet of Evil: The Ervil LeBaron Story (1993)
Directed by Jud Taylor. Written by Fred Mills. Based on a true story. William Devane stars as "Daniel 'Dan' Fields," a District Attorney who is a devout member of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fields investigates Ervil LeBaron (played by 4-time Emmy nominee Brian Dennehy), a member of a "fundamenalist" polygamist splinter group who wants to be the leader of his group, even if it means using threats and violence against his rivals. Bro. Fields struggles to balance the demands of his home and family life while working to stop LeBaron. Dee Wallace-Stone (the mom from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial") plays Sis. Fields (the investigator's wife). Also starring Tracey Needham, Danny Cooksey, Brian Reddy, Michael Watson. Interestingly enough, Devane also played a Latter-day Saint character in Alfred Hitchcock's "Family Plot" (1976). Devane has been in dozens of movies, including: Payback (1999); Hollow Man (2000); Space Cowboys (2000); Marathon Man (1976). Devane received Emmy nominations for the TV movies "Fear on Trial" (1975) and "The Missiles of October" (1974). His numerous TV credits include paying Secretary of Defense "James Heller" on the 4th season of the FOX television series "24" and playing the part of "Gregory Sumner" for ten years on "Knots Landing."
Deliver Them from Evil: The Taking of Alta View (1992)
Directed by Peter Levin. Written by John Miglis. Released on video as "Take Down." True story of Latter-day Saint doctors and nurses held hostage at Alta View hospital by Rick Worthington, a mentally insane man intent on killing his wife's doctor Dr. Garrick (Gary Frank), after his wife's tubal ligation. Teri Garr plays Susan Woolley, the nurse who tries to keep Worthington calm. Police Sergeant Don Bell (Terry O'Quinn), also a Latter-day Saint, works to defuse the situation. Worthington (also LDS) was played by Harry Hamlin.
In the Line of Duty: Siege at Marion (1992)
Also known as "Children of Fury." Directed by Charles Haid. Written by Rick Husky. Starring Ed Begley Jr., Dennis Franz, Tess Harper, Paul Le Mat, William H. Macy. Based on actual events. On 18 January 1979 police went to the home of John Singer (Norbert Weisser) to take pick up his wife Vickie's children (Singer's step-children), after a court awarded custody of the children to their biological father. Singer resisted, pointed a gun at the officers, and was shot dead by them. Nine years later, Singer's son-in-law Addam Swapp (Kyle Secor) detonated 50 pounds of dynamite in Kamas LDS Stake Center, as an act of vengeance. The Swapp and Singer familes had broken off from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and held to polygamous beliefs, considering themselves "fundamentalists." After John Singer's death they developed an intense hatred for the LDS Church, Summit County officials, and the state of Utah. Bob Bryant (actor Dennis Franz) is the F.B.I. agent in charge of an operation to arrest Adam Swapp and his brother Jonathan Swapp (Timothy S. Shoemaker). With Vickie Singer (Tess Harper) believing that her late husband will soon be resurrected, the family in holds up on their farm with provisions and enough ammunition to withstand the governments siege.
Go Toward the Light (1988)
Also known as "Go to the Light." Directed by Mike Robe. Written by Susan Nanus and Beth Polson. Executive producer: Beth Polson. True story of Ben Oyler ("Ben Madison" in the movie, played by Joshua Harris), a Latter-day Saint hemophiliac boy who contracted AIDS through a contaminated blood supply. Based on book written by Ben's father Chris Oyler and the movie's screenwriters. Linda Hamilton and Richard Thomas play the parents, "Claire Madison" and "Greg Madison." Also starring Linda Hamilton Steven Eckholdt.
The Tracker (1988; HBO)
Also known as "Dead Or Alive." Directed by John Guillermin. Written by Kevin Jarre. Fictional Western starring Kris Kristofferson as "Noble Adams," a Civil War veteran and retired tracker called on to help collar "Red Jack" Stillwell (2nd billed star Scott Wilson), an escaped serial killer. Reviewer Dale Dobson (DigitallyObsessed.com) said of this villain: "'Red Jack' Stillwell is a crazed Mormon, seeking holy vengeance against Gentiles and Native Americans alike, with no apparent motivation beyond religious fanaticism and a driving urge to make his way from hostile Arizona to the 'safe harbor' of Utah. Scott Wilson does what he can with the one-note character, but he's given little to work with beyond wild-eyed insanity and a willingness to kill on a whim. The film's Native American characters are not treated with much respect either." Writer Kevin Jarre also wrote the feature films: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Glory (1989), Tombstone (1993), The Devil's Own (1997), The Mummy (1999). Oddly enough, Kevin Jarre was the high school friend of self-styled prophet Ben David, a California man who produced prophetic writings and his own translation of parts of the Old Testament while in prison. Ben David hired Kevin Jarre to write a movie script called "The Eternal War," based on what the California Deputy Attorney General claimed to be a true story about high level government corruption. Ben David's book of scripture, "The Melchizedek Bible," expresses admiration for Latter-day Saints and discusses his opinions about many other religious groups. Perhaps Ben David was part of what inspired Kevin Jarre to write "The Tracker."
Written and directed by Joie Albrecht and Scott Garen. Also written by Steven J. Fisher and Lynn Hamrick. Produced by Daniel Helfgott. Production company: Stephen J. Cannell Productions. This 60-minute TV special presents the reenactment of various headline-making news stories. Hosted by Lindsay Wagner. Actor Bill Lawrence portrays Mark Hoffman, the Latter-day Saint who became an atheist and then became infamous master forger and murderer. Bill Lawrence, a graduate of the University of Utah, also played an LDS character in the short film "Andy Acros the Water" (2002).
Sherlock Holmes and a Study in Scarlet (1983)
Directed by Ian Mackenzie and Alex Nicholas, basedon the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle. Animated adaptation of the very first Sherlock Holmes story, in which Holmes' faces off against Latter-day Saints. Aimed at children. Shown on television. Stars Peter O'Toole as Sherlock Holmes. One of a series of 4 such cartoons made by Burbank Studios Australia. Of the many film adaptations of Study in Scarlet, this is probably the closest to the book.
The Executioner's Song (1982; NBC)
Directed by Lawrence Schiller. Teleplay by Norman Mailer, based on his own same-titled book. True story of Gary Gilmore, the first person executed in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty. He killed two Latter-day Saint men. He generated controversy because he refused to appeal his sentence. Tommy Lee Jones received an Emmy Award for his starring role as Gary Gilmore. Grant Gottschall plays Gary's brother, Mikal Gilmore. Susan French appears briefly as Bessie Gilmore. Also starring Christine Lahti, Rosanna Arquette. Latter-day Saint actors featured in smaller roles include: H.E.D. Redford, Tip Boxell, Tim Eisenhart, Oscar Rowland.
Side by Side: The True Story of the Osmond Family (1982; NBC)
Directed by Russ Mayberry. Story and teleplay by Ernie Wallengren. Story treatment co-written by Tom Lazarus. Based on the book written by Olive Osmond (the mother). True story of the Osmond Family of nationally famous singers/entertainers. Marie Osmond plays the part of her mother and Golden Globe winner Joseph Bottoms plays George Osmond, the father. Todd Dutson plays Alan Osmond at age 12. Jeremy Haslam plays Jay Osmond at age 6. Vinc Massa plays Wayne Osmond at age 10. Shane Wallace plays Merrill Osmond at age 8. Brian Poelman also plays Wayne Osmond. George Osmond and Olive Osmond make cameo appearances as themselves.
Child Bride of Short Creek (1981; NBC)
Directed by Robert Michael Lewis. Teleplay by Joyce Eliason. Story by Michael Fessier Jr. Starring Helen Hunt and Christopher Atkins; set in the 1950s, the story is about a young Korean War vet who returns home to Arizona and falls in love with a young woman from a small pre-Manifesto polygamous sect, but her parents have already arranged a marriage for her. Helen Hunt and Diane Lane star as teenage girls growing up in the "Fundamentalist" splinter group. Christopher Atkins, Warren Vanders, Joan Shawlee and Dee Wallace-Stone play other adherents of the polygamous group.
Sergeant Matlovich Vs. the U.S. Air Force (1978; NBC)
Directed by Paul Leaf. Written by John McGreevey. True story of Leonard Matlovich, a U.S. Air Force sergeant who was dismissed from the service when the Air Force found out that he was gay, and the story of his fight to be reinstated. He was the first openly gay man on the cover of Time magazine, after which he was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (He was a convert to the Church as an adult.) Academy Award nominee Brad Dourif stars as Sgt. Matlovich.
Les Etats-Unis d'Albert (2005)
91 minutes. Rated G. 35mm. Les États-Unis d'Albert is a French language film made in Quebec, Canada. Written by Andre Forcier and Linda Pinet. Directed by Andre Forcier (André Forcier). Estimated production budget: $5,000,000 (Canadian dollars). Adventure, comedy, drama. Plot summary (IMDb.com): "Albert Renaud, a young Quebec actor with aspirations to become the next Rudolph Valentino, sets off by train for Hollywood with a letter of recommendation from his drama teacher who is Mary Pickford's aunt. Along the way he meets a succession of bizarre characters ... a militant feminist Mormon who believes in polyandry (Emilie Dequenne), a womanizing golfer who plays in the Californian desert with ambergris-scented golf balls(Roy Dupuis), and a man called Noah who is trying to break a record by perching on a boat on top of a pole."
Heaven or Vegas (1999)
Yasmine Bleeth and Sarah Schaub starred in the straight-to-video film "Heaven or Vegas," directed by Utah-based filmmaker Gregory C. Haynes. Bleeth plays a Rachel, a young Mormon woman who runs away from her family in Utah and becomes a prostitute. Although her Latter-day Saint family is mostly virtuous, the overall depiction of the family, and perhaps religious/spiritual people in general, may be negative. In a Men's Perspective interview, Bleeth said of her character: "She is a young girl who... ran away to rebel against what she saw as hypocrisy in her home. She gets caught up in a life of prostitution in Vegas... She is a child. She is an innocent even though what she does is not innocent."
When asked why she did an independent movie instead of something bigger, the Baywatch star said:
Well, because I really respect independent film makers. It wasn't a choice to do an independent or a mainstream feature, it was the script that I really liked, and the character. I wasn't interested in any of the mainstream features that I was offered. It was either girlfriend parts or nudity. I won't do nudity in film, I just won't, and so it was sort of that which was completely dull and uninteresting to me. I didn't think I was ready to carry a big, $30 million movie for my first time out...
"Feature Films with Major Latter-day Saint Characters" web page created 9 February 2001. This page split from original page on 18 May 2004. Last modified 23 September 2005.