• Thomas Bonifield

Introducing Brett Varvel, Principal Player in "Miracle on Christmas"

The Christian actor turns in a captivating performance as something of a mystery man in this faith-based, Yuletide tale.

Brett Varvel (left) on the set of "Miracle on Christmas." Image: Horse is Ready Productions.

***This is the third in a series of articles profiling cast members in Miracle on Christmas, a Christian film written and directed by yours truly. The previous articles can be found under this heading on the website.***


Brett Varvel knew early in life he wanted to make movies, very early. He saw Back to the Future as a five-year-old and was certain cinema was the profession for him. And it proved to be no passing fancy, because by the time he was in high school, he was shooting movies around the house and for church on VHS and 8mm, even claiming first place in a state-wide competition in Indiana with a film he made about conversion to Christianity.


After graduating from Ball State University with a degree in film and video production, he briefly tried his hand at TV and newspaper journalism before coming back to his first love. Well, sort of anyway: he opened a production company that primarily put together wedding videos. That eventually became House of Grace Films, his current production enterprise and the vehicle through which he made The Board, a 2008 faith-based short he acted in, directed and co-wrote with his father, Gary Varvel, an award-winning syndicated political cartoonist.


Along the way, Brett also struck up a friendship with screenwriter/director Rich Christiano, a real pillar of the faith-based movie world and a man who would become something of a mentor. Initially, Christiano served as a sales agent for the first feature Brett directed, The War Within. Later, at a Christian film festival, Christiano asked him to join in a skit he was putting on there, playing the part of Lucifer, of all things.


In a turn of events we'll put in the God-Moves-in-Mysterious-Ways category, as Christiano watched Brett play the role, he felt the Lord calling him to cast the actor in the lead of his next movie, playing a youth pastor...yeah, we know: who'd a thunk it!? At any rate, it worked out just right, because Brett got the part of pastor Brandon Cobb and had an opportunity to act with the likes of Fred Grandy (The Love Boat) and Loretta Swit (MASH) in Play the Flute, which came out last year.


Now to Miracle on Christmas, in which Brett plays Harry, a surprise guest at the Boyce home for their family's annual holiday dinner. We won't divulge too much, so as not to spoil the story, but the character certainly adds some spice to the gathering, both confounding and amazing everyone else on hand. He has a particularly profound impact on the protagonist of the piece, Mary Boyce - portrayed by Erin Bethea - a Christian woman struggling with her faith after serious personal trials.


Brett could not have played the part better, capturing the essence of what we hoped for when we wrote the screenplay. He calls his character "odd," but refreshingly "innocent," adding that Harry's being "so different" from the other parts he's been offered recently was a primary reason he was drawn to this project. He also likes the realism of the tale, which includes some heavy thematic material, but should ultimately prove an uplifting story of the hope found through trusting God in all circumstances.


You'll have a chance to see Brett and the rest of the cast in Miracle on Christmas later this year when we release the movie for the 2020 Yuletide season; Christian Film Blog will inform you about the date once it becomes clear. In the meantime, watch this space for more profiles of the picture's cast!

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