Stan Original Series Prosper may be an in-depth look at a devout Christian family, the power of mega-church and the impact of religion; however, according to star Richard Roxburgh, this does not mean they are “ridiculing” it.
“I wouldn’t like people to think that this is a show where we’re ridiculing Christianity,” he said. “Where we are poking fun at it or that we are dragging its name through the dirt because it’s most definitely not that.
“Apart from anything, all of the people in the story — all of the characters — this family, they all believe [in Christianity] absolutely. The belief is not the question.”
Prosper explores a complicated family life filled with secrets
Prosper is a razor-sharp drama set in the inner sanctum of the evangelical megachurch, U Star, run by the wealthy and powerful Quinn family, in which Roxburgh plays Cal, patriarch, founder and pastor.
For Roxburgh, the series looks at how religion, and in this case, evangelicalism is “explored in their lives” and by proxy, the “sub-terrain of their complicated family life”.
“Within that, there’s a kind of difficulty and darkness and tricky territory for these people to navigate,” he said, before adding that “another part of what’s interesting in the story is the fact that the family have so many expectations of themselves”
“And other people have so many high expectations of them, which are impossibly high,” he said. “That’s the very reason why they have to kind of hide, why they have to build this world of secrets. And if the world finds that out, then it will bring the church to ruin. It will bring it to its knees, so nobody can find that out.”
Cal Quinn’s story highlights the “heartbreaking” reality of Christianity
During the very first episode, Cal announces an impulsive US expansion that sends a ripple effect through his life, causing a collision between faith and ambition and threatening to tear both his family and church apart.
Roxburgh explained that his character discovered a belief in a Christian God (“An absolute belief that in itself is unshakeable”) as a way for him to help get out of his dependence on drugs earlier in life and away from his deeply troubled past.
“He found a life raft in Christianity,” he said. “He’s also magnetic and driven and charismatic, and he can string words together in a way that people find compelling. So, he’s become the voice of the movement and he’s the angel at the front of the ship….we discover in a short space of time, that he’s a very complicated guy.”
And like some religious figureheads in real life, those complications can lead to a mammoth downfall in the public eye.
“That’s what makes it even more heartbreaking,” Roxburgh said. “It’s like, ‘Oh my God! Could that person, could that leader of that church possibly be guilty of these things?'”
He continued: “The kind of spectacular unravelling that we’ve seen across the history of these movements, that deeply fallible, deeply charismatic human beings are in charge and when it goes wrong, it really breaks so many good people’s hearts and I think that’s another thing that is investigated in Prosper.”
Stream the Stan Original Series Prosper from January 18 2024, only on Stan.