Six decades after C.S. Lewis died, actor Max McLean remains fascinated with the legendary author.
McLean isn’t the only one. New books about Lewis are published each year. New movies/television series are in the works, too, with Netflix signing a major deal in 2018 to produce fresh stories in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia universe.
“People say he was one of the great writers of the past 100 years,” McLean told Christian Headlines. “I think he's one of the great writers of all time.”
Much of McLean’s adult life has involved learning more about Lewis’ life.
McLean starred as Lewis in a one-man stage play, The Most Reluctant Convert, that chronicles Lewis’ transformation from atheist to staunch Christian. In 2021, McLean starred in a film adaptation, also called The Most Reluctant Convert, that followed the story of Lewis’ life. It is now streaming on Pure Flix. McLean portrayed an older Lewis in the film.
Like Lewis, McLean was an adult convert to Christianity. But the always-humble McLean says the comparisons end there.
McLean said there are many reasons he remains fascinated with Lewis, who died in 1963.
“He had a steel trap mind that could remember everything he wrote. He had this amazing ability to translate it into magnificent prose and speech. And we're the benefit of all that. It took so many different forms, from poetry to children's literature, to high academic scholarship, to novels to science fiction. I mean, what an extraordinary depth. … For me, writing is hard. For him, it was like turning on a faucet.”
Lewis remains popular today, McLean believes, because he was a deep man.
“I think part of it is, you don't get to the bottom of it,” McLean said. “He comes from a literary background. He comes from the study of languages. He read the New Testament in Greek. And so there's a breadth of knowledge that he sees things through that we ordinarily don't see. One of the things that really separates him is his word pictures. You know, he can take a complex idea and really make it clear. I can't tell you how many of his quotes are taken really out of context. But the quote itself just kind of blows you away. You can live in that quote for a long time. That's a genius – that is a gift that almost no one else has.”
Three movies based on Lewis’ works – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) – grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide.
Photo courtesy: ©Pure Flix, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.