J.R. Bourne has earned his tough guy credentials. Whether he’s playing the badass demon hunter Chris Argent on MTV’s hit series Teen Wolf or he was stirring up trouble on ABC’s Revenge or Lifetime’s unREAL, he’s always made an impact. This weekend, though, the veteran actor is taking a different turn as the star of Lifetime’s latest television film, The Preacher’s Sin – and LA Fan Cultures Examiner spoke to him about it last week.
In The Preacher’s Sin, J.R. plays Evan Tanner, a successful minister whose carefully constructed life begins to unravel thanks to a rebellious niece, a ruthless boss, and the reveal of an extramarital affair. How different was this from the monster-slaying, trouble-making and generally badass characters we know him for?
“It was a nice change of pace,” he told us. “He doesn’t kill anybody, he doesn’t die in the end, he didn’t kidnap [anyone] and he’s not hunting for anything. That was definitely one of the appealing things from the beginning, was just that it was a very average man dealing with everyday problems, and I kind of loved that. I was very excited to do it.”
“I’m happy with what this movie deals with,” J.R. continued. “I think it looks at not just the issues that Evan’s going through as an adult, father and husband – but it looks at bullying and depression for teens, and that’s massively important and something that should be seen and discussed and opened up about, so that’s pretty great.”
One of the things that Evan shares in common with many of J.R.’s past characters is that whatever his failings might be, he cares deeply for his family. Both Chris Argent and his Revenge character Kenny Ryan were also motivated by family, though they certainly expressed that in much different ways. We asked J.R. how, in that sense of trying to protect and preserve the family, Evan stacks up against his predecessors.
“I think he’s lucky for the people that are around him,” he said, adding, “I think he’s very blessed under the circumstances.”
To say much more than that would be a spoiler for how The Preacher’s Sin turns out, but it’s not a spoiler to say that it features another strong performance from J.R. but in a way that TV audiences probably haven’t seen him before. What makes him a great actor isn’t that he’s always playing a badass; it’s that he’s always able to make a connection with the audience, where whether you love or hate the character he’s playing, you have to remember him.
It’s exactly the same way in this movie. There’s no arguing that Evan has made his share of mistakes (insert line here about the road to hell), but he’s not a bad guy. As aforementioned, he’s not out to kill anyone, kidnap anyone or ruin anyone’s life; if anything, he’s distraught that he’s ruined his own. There’s so much emotion and vulnerability in that, and J.R. really brings that home in his performance, while also being the window through which the audience then becomes invested in the entire story. This is a role that might have audiences looking at him in an even greater light.
He might just keep breaking expectations, too. Asked what’s on his career wish list, he told us, “I’d be open to doing a little comedy if that ever happened. It would have to be a very dry comedy; I don’t know how funny I am.” But given how well he can play both a supernatural hunter and the preacher next door, we wouldn’t put anything past him.
The Preacher’s Sin airs this Saturday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.