Michael Landon Jr
Michael Landon, Jr: I grew up in a great home with a loving father and a loving mother and sometimes loving sisters and brothers (laughs), but we were living a moral life without God. And you know, that’s only going to take you so far. So at the age of fifteen, my world was turned upside down. My father had an affair and left my mom. Up to that point my father was my god because he provided all my needs, he loved me, he took care of me, I mean, he was the perfect dad. So I became a rebellious teenager. A confused and rebellious teenager, nothing out of the ordinary, my story is told tens of thousands of times over.
Anyways, during that time, my mother was with her manicurist. Prior to the turmoil in my family, my mother used to pretend to be asleep so she wouldn’t have to talk to her manicurist (laughs), but after all this stuff came up she started asking questions to Lois and Lois started answering these questions and then she started applying these principles and these ideas that Lois was giving her. And then my mom wanted to know the source of her wisdom and it was Christ. She brought my mother to church and thereafter my mom gave her life to the Lord. Then, of course she wants to share the good news with her son who has absolutely no interest whatsoever. So just to get my mom off my back and to appease her, I went to church and I couldn’t tell you what the pastor said that day, I don’t remember, but he did speak to my heart. And then it became just a series of resistance and then going and then resisting and then going back to church until finally I surrendered and gave my life to Christ.
FaithTalks: Now when did you meet your wife? Was that prior to when you became a believer?
Michael Landon, Jr: No, I met my wife after I became a believer. I was 20 years old and I was an assistant cameraman on Highway To Heaven. I was working for my father at the time and my wife’s sister was a child actress, a very talented one, and she had a guest-starring role. We were filming at a church and she came to visit the set and one of us was reading the little handbill for the church and we started talking about church and she told me where she went to church and I told her where I went to church and I invited her to church and that’s our first date.
FaithTalks: Now does your family currently live in the Hollywood area?
Michael Landon, Jr: No. Well, I’ve got family all over the place. A lot in the L.A. area.
FaithTalks: I was just wondering, how does your family stay strong in the faith in that environment? Especially with you working in the Hollywood environment.
Michael Landon, Jr: Well, one is not to live in that environment (laughs). So, yeah, we don’t live in L.A. anymore. It’s a tough environment for kids and once we had kids we knew we wanted to move out of L.A.
FaithTalks: A lot of kids tend to think of everything their parents did wrong, and every parent does things wrong, but I’d like to ask you, what is one thing your dad did right and what is one thing that your mom did right.
Michael Landon, Jr: Actually I think my father did quite a few things right. I think the main one was physical affection. He showed great physical affection towards us. We kissed, we hugged, we held hands. And it wasn’t something that stopped at a certain age. I mean, we showed genuine physical affection towards one another. I think that’s rare with fathers. So I think that’s one of the main ones for me with my dad.
My mom, well, bringing me to Christ is by far #1. But in my growing up years, I would have to say discipline (laughs).
FaithTalks: You can say that on this side.
Michael Landon, Jr: Yeah, on this side of it.
FaithTalks: So how would you advise parents, who are raising children as you are, to guide their children?
Michael Landon, Jr: Having three children of my own, this is by far the most difficult time, by far. I mean, I think about the things that my parents had to protect me from and now as a parent, it’s impossible. See, that’s the thing, it’s no longer even a possibility. I heard Ravi Zacharias, who I just love dearly, speak at a university and the question was, “What’s wrong with America?” and Ravi’s response was, “There’s nothing wrong with America. What’s wrong with it is the church.” We’re too complacent, we’re supporting the same things and doing the same things that non-believers do. We use pat answers for things that are much deeper. So when the church wakes up and sees the crisis that we’re in, then I think something can change. But until then, it’s impossible. Now you have internet access, which means that anything and everything is coming into anybody’s home. So let’s say that you as a parent protect your children from the content that’s coming in through the internet by regulating them, filtering, all these things that you can do as a parent, okay? Well, we don’t live in a vacuum, we don’t live in this isolated bubble. Our children interact with other kids and these other kids, whose parents aren’t regulating their homes, have now seen, heard, and acted out various destructible, nihilistic things that then they teach or tell your children about. So this is a tough, tough time.
FaithTalks: And you homeschooled your kids for a while?
Michael Landon, Jr: We did. We homeschooled. They’re in private school now. We homeschooled our two daughters, actually it was my wife’s father who homeschooled them. He’s a retired airline pilot, so Grandpa homeschooled them for three years.
FaithTalks: Interesting. You’re making an effort then to stay generationally connected?
Michael Landon, Jr: You mean in terms of my children and their grandparents?
Michael Landon, Jr: Absolutely.
FaithTalks: Are they believers?
Michael Landon, Jr: Oh, yes. Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, I do [make an effort then to stay generationally connected] because as parents, we don’t know anything especially when they get to the teen years. We are just the dumbest people on the planets, so for someone else who they admire and respect to affirm what it is we’re telling them is huge. It’s huge!
FaithTalks: What ways you would say Hollywood has changed since the Little House On The Prairie days?
Michael Landon, Jr: Oh, my goodness. Well, a ton. A ton. There’s no restraint regarding content, there’s no conscience behind content. And it’s a shame because entertainment affects culture. In fact, I’m under the belief that entertainment affects culture probably more than anything else. More than any other influence. There’s a quote that I like from Andrew Fletcher who said, “Let me write the songs of a nation and I won’t care who writes its laws.” That rings true to me. So unfortunately, with the studios and the gatekeepers, there’s no restraint. Their target audience is our children. So even if you look at the demographics of people who go to see movies at theaters it’s very young, it’s teens that’s the main marketplace. On television, they’re also the main target audience because the people that are buying product time are no longer interested in the actual buyers, the consumers of the product, their attention is now on future customers. So you have an industry with no restraint
FaithTalks: Would you say that there’s an anti-Christian bias in Hollywood?
Michael Landon, Jr: Well, there is a certain bias, but I don’t think it’s that. I actually think that they’re targeting our children, who by a certain inherent nature want to see these things. See, you put sexualized material in front of the teenager and it’s very difficult for them at that age to not want to look. You put graphic violence in front of them and it’s hard for them not to get involved.
FaithTalks: What advice would you give Christian young people who are wanting to move in the film industry?
Michael Landon, Jr: It’s going to be very challenging. And the reason why it’s going to be very challenging is that there aren’t a lot of jobs, especially in front of the camera, where it won’t be going against what it is that they believe. So that’s the challenge, however, I know of some young people who are committed to their faith, who are working hard at their craft and I believe God will honor them. And I will tell you that this business is starving, starving for believers, especially in front of the camera, and behind, but especially in front of the camera. Now the one problem is, first of all, the film business and especially being an actor is very enticing period, because there’s the craft itself, but then there’s all these things that come with the craft. So they see these young teenagers and, you know, they’re in the limelight, people want to know about them and they make them special and they’re making money and living this certain lifestyle, so you have to make sure that this is your gift. You have to make sure that this is your gift, okay? If it is your gift, then you have to work hard at this, you can’t be a Christian and then think that, you know, that that’s all you need and this is what God wants me to do. No, God wants you to work hard at your craft. So you have to work hard at it and then it might be a matter of literally having to support yourself by other means while you work at your craft.
And then you’ll want to have a support group of other believers around you. You will need that support because it is very unfriendly to a Christian, but it is desperately needed.
FaithTalks: In a practical sense, how would you say your faith affects your approach to filmmaking?
Michael Landon, Jr: Well, it’s my boundaries. My faith is my boundaries. It guides me as to what I will and will not do. So that’s the foundation. Everyone has, and I know you’ve heard this, everyone has a worldview, whether it be the Christian, or the atheist, or the Buddhist, and that worldview will guide what it is you will be willing to do and what you won’t.
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