LDS convert Danor Gerald is star of new 'Saints and Soldiers' film
“I thought, ‘I’m going to listen to these guys. I’m going to take every bit of good they have, own it and live by it,’ ” Gerald said.
But once they messed up, he planned to say: “Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. But on this point you are wrong.”
“They never said anything wrong,” he said. “A little whisper in my ear said, ‘This is what you have been looking for.’ ”
After his baptism, Gerald met his future wife at a singles ward in Dallas. They eventually got married and had two sons and a daughter. Joining the church also led Gerald to Utah, and that opened more doors of opportunity for more recent projects, he said.
"A lot of people don’t think you can have a good acting career and a family. I think it’s the opposite. You have to have other things that are more valuable so acting doesn't control you," Gerald said. "I know I'm on my way back home now, and the beauty is I'm not going alone. I'm going with a wife, three kids and, hopefully, grandkids. It's a blessing to be on this safe journey now."
When working with Gerald on projects like "Forever Strong," director Ryan Little was impressed with Gerald's commitment to his roles. As he and producer Adam Abel discussed who might fill the main African-American role in "The Void," Gerald came to mind.
"When Danor (Gerald) does a part, he puts his everything he has into it. He does his homework and shows up," Little said. "We considered going to Los Angeles, but I thought maybe we should consider Danor. I bet he would immerse himself in the part ... and he did. I've heard him say that it was the role of a lifetime because African-Americans don't get to be in World War II movies very often."
Gerald was honored that Little asked.
"I don’t ask questions when Ryan asks me to do something because I’ve never done anything with him that I didn’t enjoy," Gerald said. "It was a great blessing that he would call and ask."
"The Void" takes viewers to Germany's Harz Mountains in the spring of 1945. Adolf Hitler is dead, and Allied troops are charged with stomping out any remaining German forces. Gerald plays Sgt. Jesse Owens, an African-American soldier who finds himself fighting the Nazis in addition to discrimination and racism in a segregated U.S. Army.
While filming some of those tense scenes, including one where a white soldier uses a racial slur, Little admired Gerald's ability to handle his challenging role.
"It was very uncomfortable for me, although in real life it was probably much more extreme and magnified. We were trying to bring it down to a level where kids could see it and ask, 'Why are they were treating him that way?'" Little said. "But even at that level, it was awkward. I don't know how Danor (Gerald) endured it, or where he had to go to play that character."
Gerald said the movie shares a relevant message.
"This is a great story," he said. "You can take some of the lessons and experiences of the characters and apply it to your own tough situations. Maybe it will inspire some people to take the road less traveled."
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