Alabama player turned actor considers ‘Woodlawn’ powerful
    January 11 2016 by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A

    Young actor Caleb Castille, a former two time University of Alabama football national champion, sat down with Roman Gabriel III to talk about faith, football and his recent role in the movie “Woodlawn.”
    Castille plays former Alabama and Miami Dolphins running back Tony Nathan in the hugely successful Erwin Brothers film. It recently played nationwide to sell-out crowds, rated one of the top movies of the year by American audiences.
    The true story takes place at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Ala., amid racial strife and segregation in the Deep South.
    The movie portrays how a high school football team and their commitment to faith in God, family and football transforms a city and a state.


    Woodlawn photo
    Caleb Castille portrays Tony Nathan, a Birmingham, Ala., high school football player who was recruited by The University of Alabama and later played for the Miami Dolphins.

    Gabriel said it’s “the best faith-based sports film I’ve ever seen – the Erwin brothers do it right!” He interviewed Castille about the deeply moving story and the impact of the film, which releases on DVD Jan. 19.  

    Q: What was it like to put the uniform back on?
    A: It was great. We had a lot of fun making this movie, and it taught me a lot of lessons. It made me a better person overall just diving into the story. I learned a lot about Tony Nathan and the city of Birmingham.
    Q: The movie has a lot going on: football, faith, family, the racial strife of the early ’70s and more. Which part of the film compelled you?
    A: I think it was the story. I grew up in Birmingham, Ala., so for me to step into a story that took place in my own backyard was special. It was an honor to play a hero in Birmingham and the legend of the University of Alabama.

    Q: You played on a national championship football team at The University of Alabama, and so have other members of your family, right?
    A: I played cornerback for Coach Nick Saban, and I was on two national championship teams at Alabama. Both of my older brothers and my father played football in Alabama. It’s kind of in our blood.

    Q: What was it like, on your first acting job, to work with Sean Astin (who played the director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and academy award winner Jon Voight (who played famous Alabama coach Bear Bryant)?
    A: I think it was the story. I grew up in Birmingham, Ala., so for me to step into a story that took place in my own backyard was special. It was an honor to play a hero in Birmingham and the legend of the University of Alabama.


    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
    Caleb Castille, right, talks to viewers of a rough cut of “Woodlawn” in June 2015 during the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Kevin Downes, left, was one of the producers of the film and played a Birmingham reporter in the movie. Castille and Downes joined Jon Erwin, one of the writers and directors, and Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., for a question and answer time about the movie.

    Both those guys are absolutely professional in every aspect of the way they operate on a daily basis on set. It was incredible to be around them, to work with them, to be coached by them in and out of scenes.
    For me as a young guy, having no acting experience, I was just soaking up everything from those guys to give the performance I needed.
    Q: Being a former football player yourself, tell me about the authenticity and the quality of the football scenes in this movie?
    A: The football scenes are crazy. They take the audience right into the middle of the game. It’s one of the most incredible football movies, in my honest opinion. Jon and Andy Erwin had a plan, along with our football coordinator Mark Richt, to create scenes in which the audience feels like they’re in the middle of the play.
    When you watch football on television, it’s filmed from the outside-in; it’s created to be a spectator sport. But what we wanted to do was put the spectator inside the game. All of the shots are from the inside-out. They’re making the runs with me; they’re seeing the sweat; they’re seeing the pain on my face when I get hit – bone crushing hits; they’re seeing me take the handoff like they’re taking the handoff. The audience is right in the game, and it’s awesome!
    Q: What was the toughest part of shooting the football scenes?
    A: The toughest were definitely the rain scenes. People don’t realize it gets real cold in Alabama. We were shooting in 23 degree weather. That was tough.
    Q: Woodlawn is all about faith, family and football. Prayer was such a big part of turning things around. How do you feel about many schools trying to remove prayer from sports on high school and college campuses?
    A: Prayer is something that’s positive and brings healing. Am I forcing it on anyone?  No. What I’m saying is what it’s done for me personally. For me, prayer is something that we need, especially in this younger generation. We need to learn how to forgive and learn how to love. I’m all for it.
    Q: Caleb, how can viewing this film alter or change a viewer’s life?
    A: I feel like the film speaks for itself. I think one of the most powerful things we have is testimony. This film is filled with so many testimonies of how people allow Jesus Christ to change their lives, changing them from the inside out. When you view the film I think it’ll make you ask questions, analyze your life and your thought process. I think whatever your flaws are, it will make you think about those things. It’s an inspiring film; it’s a family film; it’s a motivating film; it’s a special film overall. I’m just so grateful to be part of it.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at Visit his website:; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email:

    1/11/2016 2:04:33 PM by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Christian media, Roman Gabriel III, Woodlawn

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