A character in War Room that you will absolutely fall in love with is Miss Clara, played by Karen Abercrombie. You just can’t get enough of Miss Clara!
In War Room, this elderly saint takes under her wing a young woman (Elizabeth) who is in the midst of a troubled marriage. It’s a mentoring relationshp that Elizabeth embraces. Through it, she learns how to go to her “war room” in prayer for her husband, how to forego the arguing, and how to fight the right way. Miss Clara’s abandonment and uninhibited rejoicing over how God is obviously meeting Elizabeth in the “war room” and intervening in her marriage is priceless! Oh, that my kitchen was such a place of worship!
We had the opportunity to ask Karen a few brief questions about making the film, but first … when interviewing Alex Kendrick, the director of the film, (interview also in this issue) he shared the unusual experience of casting this part. God was undeniably involved in everything.
TINA: Where in the world did you find Miss Clara?
ALEX: We did an audition at a church in North Carolina. She was one of the last people we asked. We were really worried. What we needed was a Miss Clara! We needed a believer who could do this effectively and come across the screen where you would just fall in love with her. And, we COULD NOT find her!
Everybody else was cast. A few days before we started shooting, I was getting almost desperate. We were on our faces asking the Lord to bring us the right Miss Clara. So, we went to this church for one of the final days of auditions, and Karen goes to the church where we were holding these auditions. When she heard about it, she enjoyed acting, so she showed up. She tricked us, though, because she’s only in her 50s. She put on this wig, glasses, these older clothes, and did her make-up differently. When she started acting, we thought she was an older woman.
When she did all the lines, we were amazed. I was excited! I looked at Stephen [Kendrick] and said, “This may be the lady!” We interviewed her at length and she stayed in character, even when we were just talking with her regularly. Near the end of the interview, we said that we’d like to have her come back and audition again and learn more about her. She said, “Well, can I be myself now?” I was thinking, “What does that mean?” She took off the wig and glasses, and all of a sudden dropped 20 years and was lively and expressive. We were just floored. This woman was not in her 70s. She was in her mid-50s. Wow! We ended up giving her—Karen Abercrombie—the role and I thought she was just outstanding.
TINA: Karen certainly was creative in getting the decision-makers’ attention. So, let’s hear from her now. Why did you accept the part of Miss Clara in War Room?
KAREN: It was so beautifully written and one that I felt I could really dive in to and go deep. I also loved the message and what this character represents.
TINA: Would you encourage families with elementary-age children to watch this movie together?
KAREN: Absolutely! It’s a wonderful family film with great messages for the entire family and there are characters in it that all ages can relate to.
TINA: Were there any unique moments during the filming of the movie when you undoubtedly felt God’s presence—when He was especially obvious?
K A R E N : Countless moments. I felt Him very strongly during my time in the prayer closet. I also felt Him profoundly as I read Miss Clara’s lines for the first time when I prepared to audition for the role.
TINA: How are you different after making this film?
KAREN: My prayer life has definitely grown, and I find myself praying about EVERYTHING!
TINA: Talk about the relationship you built with Priscilla Shirer (who played Elizabeth Jordan)— actress to actress—during the filming.
KAREN: Priscilla Shirer is an amazing and very brave young woman. Watching her take on this project as a novice to acting and completely trust God to help get her to where she needed to be was wonderful to watch. Her openness and humility were beautiful to behold. I’m a fan of the woman and the fierce warrior for God that she is.
TINA: How were you able to relate to the character you played (Miss Clara)?
KAREN: Like myself, Miss Clara loves the Lord and she is the mother of an only child who is a son, so we automatically had that in common. She is quite a few years older than I am and her prayer life was certainly above and beyond my own. I loved the challenge! I love to play characters that I consider a challenge and Miss Clara was. I loved diving in and building her! For me, acting is worship and being able to take information from a page to create a believable 3-dimensional character is a privilege and great thrill.
T I N A : What are your hopes for the impact War Room will have on its viewers?
K A R E N : My hope is that it will move people to their knees, closer to God, and into the deepest possible relationship that one can have with Him.
Our gratitude goes out to Karen Abercrombie for talking with us about her part in making what will definitely be a life-changing experience for all who sit in front of the screen.