Believing in God is a topic typically banned from family reunions and cocktail parties…and for good reason: the subject is as sensitive as politics and ignites emotional fires quicker than you can say, “Amen!”
When it comes to celebrities and stars, outside of one-on-one interviews by prying sorts like Barbara Walters, the only time God normally comes up is when they give the entity credit for winning an award or helping them see the light that…helped them win the award.
Many movie stars identify with atheism but most don’t regularly broach the subject. They run the gamut from Shakespearean to dramatic and various types of comedy actors and include all ages and ethnic backgrounds, as well as a myriad of reasons for their viewpoints.
Ever since his pivotal role in Footloose threw him into the spotlight, Bacon has never failed to please, giving great performances in classics such as A Few Good Men and JFK and most recently starring on the ghoulish TV drama The Following. Married to practicing Jew Kyra Sedgwick for over 25 years, Bacon confirmed he didn’t believe in God in a 2005 interview with The Times, adding that he isn’t anti-religion but is a strong supporter of the separation of church and state. Thank god.
Bardem‘s most memorable performance was in 2007’s No Country for Old Men. Raised Catholic in Spain, he attributes his father’s death to opening his eyes about religion and choosing atheism as an alternative. Bardem said the passing of his father and the realization that religion was nothing more than a method to cope with mortality “suddenly all felt so obvious” and he never turned back.
Although Black rarely steps outside his unique talents that elicit belly laughs in films such as Kung Fu Panda and High Fidelity, the actor/musician/voice over artist can wax serious. He was raised in a Jewish household but declared he was atheist early in his film career. However, since he became the father of two boys in 2006 and 2008, he’s decided to raise them in the Jewish faith and occasionally attends synagogue with them.
Always the charmer, Foster embraced atheism at a young age but never abandoned religious celebrations. She jumps in on any celebration from Christmas to Hanukkah, making her a welcome guest at many family celebrations. At the end of the day, when her kids ask if they are Jewish, Catholic, etc., her stock answer is, “Well, I’m not but you can choose when you’re 18.” Wisdom worth contemplation.
Freeman is not only one of the most famous actors of all time, his range of roles is astounding, playing everything from a chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy to God in Bruce Almighty and just about every character in between. Freeman’s explanation of his atheistic views is simple: He can’t believe in a creator without seeing any hard evidence. Instead, Freeman believes in science. He said, “We take a lot of what we’re talking about in science on faith; we posit a theory, and until it’s disproven we have faith that it’s true. If the mathematics work out, then it’s true, until it’s proven to be untrue.”
Gervais, a brilliant British actor, comedian, writer, and radio presenter, claims he lost his faith at the age of 8 and has been an atheist ever since. His career has included success on the big and little screens in both animated and traditional productions, with his most recent honor being nominated for an Emmy for his Netflix series Derek. When asked how he became an atheist, Gervais once said, “I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite.’ I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,’ (which) comes across as both patronizing and impolite.”
Keeping in step with her contentious performance persona, Griffin is a self-described “complete militant atheist.” She angered Christians across the board in the speech she gave in acceptance of her 2007 Creative Arts Emmy saying, “A lot of people come up here and they thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. He didn’t help me a bit. … So all I can say is suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.”
Knightley, who first gained recognition in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and has since had more than 50 roles in romantic comedies, period pieces and dramas, believes atheism makes her feel more responsible for her actions and that embracing Catholicism would give her more freedom in making life decisions. She said, “If only I wasn’t an atheist, I could get away with anything. You’d just ask for forgiveness and then you’d be forgiven. It sounds much better than having to live with guilt.”
Laurie played a sarcastic, cynical atheist on the hit show House…and the character seems to mirror his real beliefs, or lack thereof. An outspoken atheist for decades, he is almost as renowned for his sketches with fellow atheist and friend Stephen Fry on the TV show A Bit of Fry and Laurie. He sums up his viewpoint with, “I don’t believe in God, but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted he’d take it away. So he’ll be like: ‘You think this is going pretty well?’ Then he’ll go and send down some big disaster.”
Sir Ian Mckellen
One of the oldest and gentlest actors, Mckellen has also been an outspoken atheist for decades, blaming religion, including Christianity, for most of the violence in the world, citing religious leaders who promote hatred. As an outspoken homosexual, he also disdains the Bible for condemning men loving men and adds, ” The Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying, ‘This is fiction.'”
With over 77 credits in a career that’s included playing characters from crazy to charismatic, Moore has long been one of the most vocal supporters of the progressive movement in Hollywood, an early and strong advocate of marriage equality and an active Planned Parenthood board member. Moore has been equally candid about her atheism. She was once asked what she would say if she met God at Heaven’s gates and replied her response would be, “Wow, I was wrong, you really do exist!”