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Due to a Jan. 4 playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson won’t be playing in the upcoming Super Bowl. So instead, he’s wading into filmmaking by putting the final touches on a feature documentary about abortion.
Watson, a pro-life Christian, is executive producing and partially financing a movie called Divided Hearts of America that he started filming in May, prior to the NFL season, and continued for two weeks during the bye week for the Patriots. Now, he’s in postproduction on the project.
In the movie, Watson interviews about 30 Americans, some pro-life, some pro-choice, about the controversial topic, and the film features several prominent people, such as former presidential candidate Ben Carson and Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I never thought I’d be involved in a movie, but so many different laws have passed in New York, Alabama, Georgia, it seems this issue — which has always been a part of our national consciousness — has ramped up recently,” Watson told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Things are at a fever pitch,” he said. “My goal is to unveil the truth about abortion, the laws, the history and where our country is headed. I believe in the sanctity of life, be it in the womb or on your deathbed. That’s my conviction. But with the film, I’ll engage those who disagree and hear their reasoning. The No. 1 thing I’m looking for is empathy on both sides.”
Watson’s view on the subject shouldn’t be a surprise in Hollywood after he engaged in a high-profile war of words with Alyssa Milano in May after the actress said anti-abortion laws would especially hurt “women of color.”
The married, African American father of seven and author of The New Dad’s Playbook tweeted to Milano that her comment “reveals ignorance, racism or some combination of both. Our children and families are capable of greatness and lies like this harm our future. Don’t patronize us.”
The two settled their differences when Milano tweeted back: “If you’d like to discuss further, please DM me. My door & heart are always open.” The dust-up occurred just as Watson began production and he told THR that he informed the actress of his intention to make a movie about abortion.
“Dissenting views should be respected and in fact encouraged. There are many people in Hollywood who would consider themselves pro-life but they feel as though their viewpoint is unacceptable in the industry,” Watson said. “No one should feel like their job is in danger because of their convictions on this issue.”
Watson says that the movie, which is budgeted at less than $1 million, is also financed by some donors and the Christian charity he runs with his wife called the One More Foundation, which focuses on hunger, poverty, prison reform and other social issues.
Watson said he’s negotiating with distributors and that some groups have already guaranteed they’d be buying out theaters.
“This has been a fun learning experience,” Watson said. “I didn’t know ‘P&A’ or any of the other terms. This is my first foray into filmmaking, but hopefully not my last.”
Watson played 15 years in the NFL and has said he’ll retire when his contract expires around Super Bowl Sunday. He began and ended his career with the Patriots.
Asked for intel on the situation involving his team’s quarterback, Watson said: “The Patriots will stick with Tom Brady as long as they can. Any team would. Being a friend and a fan, I know he has a lot more football in him. Maybe in New England. Only Tom and God knows for sure.”
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