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10 Mormon cinema stars: Where are they now?

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In 2000, screenwriter and director Richard Dutcher produced the missionary drama “God’s Army.” This marked the unofficial beginning of the age of Mormon Cinema—for the next 10 years or so, Mormon culture, Mormon actors and Mormon experiences were all the rage on the big screen.

Though other films about and for Mormons had been produced before (like “Saturday’s Warrior,” for example) and have been made since, the first decade of the 21st century was alive with Mormon-made films that made Kirby Heyborne a household name.

Some of the stars of these early Mormon films have continued in successful acting careers, while some have settled into relative obscurity. Here’s an update on 10 familiar faces from Mormon movies past.

1. Kirby Heyborne

Kirby Heyborne is an LDS actor best known for his role as Elder Calhoun in "The Best Two Years." (Photo courtesy kirbyheyborne.com)

Kirby Heyborne is an LDS actor best known for his role as Elder Calhoun in “The Best Two Years.” (Photo courtesy kirbyheyborne.com)

Known for:Saints and Soldiers,” “The R.M.,” “The Best Two Years,” “The Singles Ward,” “The Singles 2nd Ward.” 
Where he is now: After several credits per year in the mid-2000s, Heyborne’s career has slowed. His most recent film credit is as Sheldon the Turtle in the 2015 film “Twelve.” He has also performed as an audiobook narrator, and recently won The Odyssey Award for his performance. He has narrated over 100 titles, including “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” and “Black Swan Green.” He also performs as a musician and is the co-founder and director of a Los Angeles-based improv comedy group. In 2015, he appeared in a CarMax TV Commercial called “The Bright Side of Car Buying: Worry Free.”

2. Erin Chambers

Erin Chambers (left) played Sister Taylor in the 2008 film "Errand of Angels." (Photo courtesy mormonflix.com)

Erin Chambers (right) played Sister Taylor in the 2008 film “Errand of Angels.” (Photo courtesy mormonflix.com)

Known for: “The Errand of Angels,” “The Singles 2nd Ward.”
Where she is now: Erin has appeared in several TV series since her time in the Mormon Cinema spotlight. TV credits include roles on “Scandal,” “The Young and the Restless,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Castle,” “General Hospital,” “Days of Our Lives,” and “Without a Trace.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

3. Will Swenson

Will Swenson married Broadway actress Audra McDonald in 2012. (Photo courtesy Tumblr)

Will Swenson married Broadway actress Audra McDonald in 2012. (Photo courtesy Tumblr)

Known for:The Singles Ward,” “Sons of Provo,” “The Singles 2nd Ward,” “The R.M.”
Where he is now: Will has collected several film, TV and stage credits since 2007, including as an actor on “This is Where I Leave You,” “The Good Wife,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He was nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance for a Featured Actor in a musical for “Hair”and was cast as Inspector Javert in the 2014 Broadway revival of “Les Miserables.” He married broadway actress Audra McDonald in 2012.

4. Katherine Nelson

Katherine Nelson is known for her music career. (Photo courtesy nashvilletributeband.org)

Katherine Nelson is known for her music career. (Photo courtesy nashvilletributeband.org)

Known for: “Emma Smith: My Story,” “Ephraim’s Rescue,” “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration.”
Where she is now: Primarily a singer, Katherine has a total of seven film credits, three of which she received after 2010. She has recorded several songs and a few albums, most recently “Born Brave” (2012). She is married and has four children.

5. David Nibley

Melty Way CEO Dave Nibley whet our appetite for grilled cheese when he brought sandwiches to the Fab 40 photo shoot for our March issue. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Melty Way CEO Dave Nibley is known for his various roles in LDS cinema including Alvin Smith in “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration.” (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Known for: “The Best Two Years,” “Church Ball,” “17 Miracles,” “Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed,” “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration”
Where he is now: Most of Nibley’s film credits remain in the LDS genre, though not all. His most recent film credit was as Dave’s Father in “Tongue Tied,” 2014. Nibley is the CEO of The Melty Way in Utah County. He and his wife live in Utah with their four daughters.

6. Heather Beers

Heather Beers, who is best known for her role as Charly in the film "Charly," rides the ferris wheel with Jeremy Hoop (Sam). (Photo courtesy LDS Mag)

Heather Beers, who is best known for her role as Charly in the film “Charly,” rides the ferris wheel with Jeremy Hoop (Sam). (Photo courtesy LDS Mag)

Known for: “Charly,” “Baptists at Our Barbecue”
Where she is now: Beers has seven post-2010 film credits, including “Christmas for a Dollar,” “Waffle Street” and the two 2016 films “The Hollow Point” and “Phobic.” She also appearedin the 2006 film “Unaccompanied Minors” and briefly in the 2009 LDS film “One Good Man.” Today she works as an actress, freelance writer and voice over artist — listen for her voice as you ride on UTA.

7. Jon Heder

Jon Heder started his acting career with "Napoleon Dynamite." (Photo courtesy FOX Searchlight)

Jon Heder started his acting career with “Napoleon Dynamite.” (Photo courtesy FOX Searchlight)

Known for: “Napolean Dynamite”
Where he is now: Heder has had a successful career in comedy, appearing in the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” and the films “Just Like Heaven,” “The Benchwarmers,” “Blades of Glory,” “Surf’s Up,” and the TV show “My Name is Earl.” His most recent project is the 2016 comedy “Ghost Team,” which is currently filming.

8. Connie Young

Connie Young and Will Swenson film a scene for "The Singles Ward."

Connie Young and Will Swenson film a scene for “The Singles Ward.”

Known for: “The Singles Ward,” “The Singles 2nd Ward.”
Where she is now: Young’s most recent film credit was 2013, which was her first film credit since 2009. However, she has appeared recently in two infomercials.

9. Christopher Gorham

While not LDS, Christopher Gorham played the lead in "The Other Side of Heaven." (Photo courtesy BYUtv)

While not LDS, Christopher Gorham played the lead in “The Other Side of Heaven.” (Photo courtesy BYUtv)

Known for: “The Other Side of Heaven.”
Where he is now: Gorham, though not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was cast as a Mormon missionary in “The Other Side of Heaven” because filmmakers thought he had “a very gentle soul.” He has enjoyed an illustrious acting career, most recently as the voice of The Flash/Barry Allen in “Justice League vs. Teen Titans.” He has also appeared on the TV shows “Covert Affairs,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Felicity.”

10. Curt Doussett

Curt Doussett (Photo courtesy curtdoussett.com)

Curt Doussett has appeared in a variety of LDS films. (Photo courtesy curtdoussett.com)

Known for: “Saints and Soldiers,” “Midway to Heaven,” “One Good Man,” “Church Ball,” “The R.M.”
Where he is now: Doussett appeared on the TV Series “Hazard Pay” (2007-2008) and “Fresh take” (2011). He was also the host of the TV shows “America’s Lost Treasures” (2012) and “Exit” (2013). Today, he can be seen performing at ComedySportz in Provo as the show’s “referee.”

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19 Responses to "10 Mormon cinema stars: Where are they now?"

  1. Carolyn Bennett says:

    Good article, Breanna!

  2. William Mareth says:

    There was an actor named Nephi Olson, I believe in secondary roles in some old black and white movies. I am curious about him. I have seen his name in credits before.

    • Margaret J says:

      You are thinking of the late Moroni Olsen. Moroni’s career was long, and if you check out his credits you will find that he played some very interesting roles.

      Moroni Olsen happens to be related to the late Merlin Olsen, also an LDS actor. In addition to acting, Merlin was named to the NFL Hall of Fame and worked as a football commentator for NBC. Two of Merlin’s brothers also played in the NFL.

  3. Leland Dixon says:

    You forgot to mention that Wil Swenson divorced his wife and abandoned his family so that he could chase his dream of being a star.
    This is not the first time this has happened on a list like this. In the future, you should stick to those that we as members should look up to instead of those for whom we must make excuses for their less than eternal choices.

    • Amber says:

      Although it can be nice to hear about how actors are doing in their personal as well as professional lives, I appreciate that this article doesn’t have negative judgements about someone’s personal life as you are suggesting. There are enough other news sites ready to tear people down, and I imagine it’s already very hard for actors to hear all negative comments they are subjected to, when in the public eye. I believe in being kind and respectful of all.

    • Karen Bowman says:

      Leland Dixon, “We as members” don’t need to make excuses for anyone. We are all free to choose our path in life and no one I know is perfect at it. Are you, and therefore you are qualified to judge what someone else chooses? Swenson is an LDS actor, and a good one; that’s what this article is about – not his personal life.

    • Gaetan Gauthier says:

      Just wandering if you where a member? If you are read the parable of the beam in your on eye and leave the righteous indignation to The Lord He is the only One who can judge.

    • Smitty says:

      Not according to her web site. From her “About” page:

      “In addition to her professional obligations, McDonald is an ardent proponent of marriage equality. She sits on the advisory board of the advocacy organization Broadway Impact and has been featured in campaigns for Freedom to Marry, NOH8, and PFLAG NYC. In 2012, she and her now husband, actor Will Swenson, received PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality Award. A dog lover, she has two canine companions, Butler and Georgia, adopted from Eleventh Hour Rescue, a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that saves dogs from death row. In 2014, she joined the Covenant House International Board of Directors, which oversees programs for homeless youth in 27 cities in six countries across the United States, Canada, and Latin America.

      Of all her many roles, her favorites are the ones performed offstage: wife to her husband and mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.

      • Margaret J says:

        I think Leland was referring to Will Swenson’s first wife, Amy Westerby Swenson, and their boys. I have no idea whether Will “abandoned” Amy and their children. Divorce is always sad, and it’s even harder when the couple are in the public eye. I try not to make judgements about things when I don’t really know the facts. Even then I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, ’cause people have certainly misunderstood ME or been told lies about my actions/motivations.

  4. Virginia Maude says:

    You forgot to mention Corbin Allred! A wonderful actor and a true gnetleman.

    I had the privilege of spending time with him when he served his mission in Melourne
    Australia. And he is still a dear friend.

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks, I was about to post a comment about Corbin Allred when I read yours. KUDOS! Love Corbin Allred he worked with my nephew Calvin Harrison on Saints and Solders: Airborne and was a wonderful example to my non-member nephew.

  5. Clifton Palmer McLendon says:

    I think you mean Moroni Olsen. My favorite film of his was “We’ve Never Been Licked.” One of the other actors — in a minor role — was Robert Mitchum.

  6. gary harris says:

    Dean Jagger who played the part of Brigham Young about 1940. The rest of the cast was first team actors during that time. He was in many movies and had big parts.
    It is my understanding he later joined the church.

  7. I remember Roberta Shore, She lived in San Gabrial, Calif. and played in the Walt Disney’s the Shaggy Dog. She lives in Utah now.

  8. D.J. Holmes says:

    Kelly Packard is an actress and was on Baywatch, California Dreams, The Wonder Years and hosted Ripleys Believe It or Not with Dean Cain. She guest starred on many sit-coms in the late ’80’s-2016. Recently she was on Celebrity Wife Swap and Zoe Gone for the Lifetime channel. A convert since a teenager, she lives with her ERdoctor husband and 4 children in So. Cal.

  9. Eric says:

    If you’re going to put Christopher Gorham on the list, you should include his starring role on Harper’s Island – where his character is anything _but_ gentle. 😉

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