'Reacher' star Alan Ritchson reveals faith saved him from suicide: 'I belong in God's camp'

Alan Ritchson stars in 'Ordinary Angels.'
Alan Ritchson stars in "Ordinary Angels." | Lionsgate

NEW YORK — Alan Ritchson is the first to admit he's not a "poster child" for Christianity. 

"I'm bipolar. I'm temperamental, I'm stubborn, I'm creatively a perfectionist, and I hold people to a ridiculous, ridiculous standard, and myself to an even higher one. And I'm hard to live with," the 41-year-old actor told The Christian Post.

But it's this self-awareness and understanding of his limitations that gives Ritchson, who shot to worldwide fame with the success of his Prime Video show "Reacher," a deep understanding of grace. 

"The problem is, it's less that I doubt God is real or that God cares. It's more that I doubt that I'm worthy of the love that God gives or that I'm worthy of His attention," said Ritchson, a husband and father of three sons. "I thought my career was over a few years ago. I had a run-in with suicide and tried to take my own life. Thank God I was not successful."

Yet, Ritchson's story is one of hope and transformation: The actor credits his survival and subsequent recovery to the unwavering support of his family, medical professionals and, most importantly, a renewed relationship with God. 

"My family was there for me, some doctors were there for me, and I got help and pulled through," he recalled. "But I had to find what meaning and purpose look like after that, and it looked like serving others and having a real relationship with God."

This experience sparked in Ritchson a desire to share his experiences and insights, leading to the establishment of "instachurch" on his social media, a platform he uses to discuss meaningful topics and potentially save others from suicide.

"I just have to say something that matters; maybe it'll save someone else from suicide, too," he said. "I thought, 'I'm probably never going to work in the business again.' And, lo and behold, God's like, 'I'm going to give you the most insane career you could ever imagine.' I continue to try and honor Him, and it's been a real gift."

In addition to starring in "Reacher," consistently one of Prime Video's top-performing shows, Ritchson stars alongside Hilary Swank in the new Lionsgate and Kingdom Story film "Ordinary Angels."

The film, based on a true story, is set in Lousiville, Kentucky, in the early '90s and follows Sharon (Swank), a hairdresser who struggles with alcoholism and is seeking greater purpose in her life. She encounters the story of Michelle, a little girl in urgent need of a liver transplant, in the local newspaper and embarks on a mission to help raise funds to save Michelle's life. 

Meanwhile, Michelle's father, Ed (Ritchson), a widower, is struggling to make ends meet while also grappling with the loss of his wife. He's reticent to receive Michelle's help and embittered toward a God he blames for his dire situation. 

The film is directed by Jon Gunn ("The Case for Christ") and produced by Kevin Downes and Jon and Andrew Erwin ("I Can Only Imagine," "Jesus Revolution") among others.

Ritchson told CP he relates to Ed's struggles with doubt and difficulty reconciling a benevolent God amidst the world's suffering. The actor revealed he advocated for including scenes that depict his character's doubt; faith, he said, is often forged in the crucible of crisis. 

"Faith is torn in those moments of doubt and crisis," he said, emphasizing the importance of representing the full spectrum of spiritual experience in the film. He cited C.S. Lewis's notion that God "shouts in our pain," underscoring the role of suffering in deepening faith.

"I begged for the scenes where doubt creeps in to stay in the movie because it's so easy to pluck those and go like, let's keep it like sort of just almost like a 'prosperity gospel,' where it feels like we're just going to keep chugging towards hope. But faith is torn in those moments of doubt," he said.

"We can't really have a conversation about faith; it's not a faith-based movie unless you receive a little doubt."

Ritchson told CP that through his work, he wants to highlight the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Success and accolades, he said, are fleeting and unfulfilling; true joy and peace are only found through a relationship with God.

"That Sermon on the Mountain, Beatitudes way of living, it's not foreign to me, and it takes a lot of work, which is why I cling to it," he said. "The times that I've had the most trouble are the times where I am on my own, a slave to my own ambition. Realizing there's really nothing there at the top when you're just grinding away at building your own empire — I don't belong in that camp. I belong in God's camp."

"Ordinary Angels" also stars Nancy Travis, Tamala Jones, Amy Acker, Drew Powell, Skywalker Hughes and Emily Mitchell. The film is now playing in theaters.

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Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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