Hospital drama The God Committee releases July 2, 2021, in select theaters and on demand. It stars Kelsey Grammer, Julia Stiles, Janeane Garofalo, and Colman Domingo as members of a hospital committee that have to make the tough decision as to which patient will receive an organ transplant.
“When a donor heart unexpectedly arrives at a New York hospital, an organ transplant committee must convene within one hour to decide which of three other patients deserves the life-saving heart,” says the official synopsis. “God’s work is now left in the hands of five doctors, including Boxer (Kelsey Grammer), a cynical but brilliant heart surgeon; Jordan (Julia Stiles), an idealistic up-and-comer; and Gilroy (Janeane Garofalo), a weary bureaucrat. As the debate over the heart heats up, ethics and bribes clash, leaving the committee members to question what’s more valuable: morals or money?”
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief spoke with The God Committee director Austin Stark and star Colman Domingo about bringing the drama to screen, Domingo’s terrific role as Father Dunbar, and more. Check out the video interview below or read the full transcript.
Tyler Treese: Austin, I saw this was adapted from a play. What made you want to adapt The God Committee into a film?
Austin Stark: It really resonated with me. I had heard a story a few years before I read the play about a wealthy man who was very sick, bribing, a hospital for an organ. That story, I just, I couldn’t believe it, and it stuck with me. The production company called Crystal City Entertainment sent me a version of the script that Mark St. Germain had written, and that story came rushing back to me and I wanted to make this film. At the same time, I also wanted to put my own mark on the material. So I did. The film is inspired by Mark’s play, and I did bring it into my own space and updated it in ways that that really resonated with me.
Austin, The Runner was your directorial debut. What did you learn from that experience that really helped you direct The God Committee?
Austin: Well, one of the things that The Runner taught me because I wrote The Runner as well was that I really enjoy writing the material that I direct because it gives you time to meditate on it and to live with it and imagine every shot. Really understand the character’s motivations. So that was one of the things that I took with me to my second film. I really wanted to write The God Committee, even though we had Mark’s play as source material. The other is just like, I worked with some incredible actors on that film, Nicholas Cage and Sarah Paulson and Peter Fonda. I mean legends, and they taught me a lot about working with actors and being able to bring out authentic performances and collaborating. So I think those are the two main things.
Colman, you play a priest with a bit of a shady past attached to him, and nobody really knows his loyalty at first. What really intrigued you about the role of Father Dunbar?
Colman Domingo: Well, I think that’s actually the seduction of it as well because it’s a character that you think, “Oh, he’s got to have a way in, he has to want something.” But I think because of his background [and] experience, being a disbarred attorney, I think that he’s actually trying to actually just like really help people examine and do the same examination that I think he has to do for himself, which is self-examination and really just unpack a whole lot to actually get to the truth of something. I think that’s also the audience’s eyes as well. So you can look at all these arguments and these different ideologies and actually just see what is the best decision to make because at the end of the day, that’s what everyone’s trying to do. No one is trying to really do it for nefarious reasons. They’re doing it because of love. They’re doing it for the success of the hospital and the programs, you name it. But everyone has to really deconstruct that in order to come to the essence of a pure decision.
Colman, later on in the film that you’re shown giving this passionate speech. For your performance of a priest, what did you draw on to make sure your sermon sounded authentic because it felt like I was back in church. It was quite the performance.
Colman: Hallelujah. Thank you. You know what? I come from a long line of preachers actually, like I’m on the shoulders of many, many preachers. I actually happen to be an ordained Reverend myself. So I am Reverend. Actually, jokingly enough, my friends call me I’m Reverend Dr. Colman Domingo. I think that what I do as an actor is part of being, I don’t know, a person who’s supposed to speak truth to people. I think that’s actually the essence of, I think hopefully of any artists at the end of the day, but I think that that’s what I have the mic for. And so I feel like I draw on that. I’ve drawn [from] my uncles and my grandfather and, you know, people who are just trying to convey a great message of love and light and truth. I think hopefully that’s what I drew on.
Beautiful. Austin, Kelsey Grammer and Julia Stiles. They’re so great in the lead roles. to get some such experienced pros as the leads has to make your job easier. How was it like working with them?
Austin: Oh, it was incredible. Kelsey, we sent Kelsey, the script and he called me and he’s like, “Wow, this is very powerful.” We didn’t offer him a specific role and he came back and was like, “There’s a number of characters that I’d be interested in playing in this film, but what I really think people would respond to is Boxer because I’ve never done this before. It’s different, it’s unexpected.” And I thought about it and I was like, you know what, you’re right. Let’s do it. So that’s, that’s how that came about. And I think just Julia is just such a great actress, and Dr. Taylor is probably the purest character in the film. She has a warmth to her and I thought Julia would bring in an authenticity to that. I knew she would be able to kind of deliver it in a way that didn’t feel overdone and it felt like it felt real.