celebrity

The controversial life of Kirk Cameron, nearly 30 years after the end of 'Growing Pains'.

In the late 1980s, Kirk Cameron was a household name thanks to his heartthrob status. As a teenager, he was the archetypal pin-up, adored by young girls across the world.   

Cameron was the former star of Growing Pains, playing Mike Seaver for the sitcom’s seven seasons between 1985 to 1992. He starred alongside a young Leonardo DiCaprio, and a then-unknown Brad Pitt who made a couple of guest appearances. 

 Leonardo DiCaprio and Kirk Cameron both starred in Growing Pains. Image: ABC.

But as soon as the show was cancelled, Cameron’s career took a turn and his public image has shifted immeasurably in the nearly 30 years since the end of Growing Pains. Here’s where he is now. 

Kirk Cameron the born-again Christian. 

When Cameron was first catapulted into mainstream fame, he was a “staunch atheist” who thought he “was just too smart to believe in a fairy tale like that,” he later wrote in ‘How Do You Know He's Real’.

During the height of his career while on Growing Pains, he became a born-again Christian. 

"I had everything that I wanted. I had as much money as I wanted to spend. I was travelling around the world meeting famous people. I was a famous person… But I met a man, who was the father of a girl that I liked, and I got to talking to this man, and he said, 'There’s still something that you don’t have, though, Kirk. You have a lot, but you don’t have the Lord'." 

Kirk Cameron in 1991. Image: Getty.

ADVERTISEMENT

That one conversation ultimately sparked his curiosity and led to his conversion to Christianity, he explains. His religious path saw him isolate himself from his co-stars before the show was cancelled in 1992. Cameron did not keep in contact with his former colleagues.

“I definitely kind of made an about-face, going toward another aspect of my life,” Cameron told Los Angeles Times in 2000. “I shifted my focus from 100 per cent on the show, to 100 per cent on [my new life], and left 0 per cent on the show - and even the friendships that were a part of that show. If I could go back, I think I could make decisions that were less inadvertently hurtful to the cast - like talking and explaining to them why I just wanted to have my family at my wedding.” 

Kirk Cameron's wife. 

After converting to Christianity at the age of 17, Cameron fell in love with his Growing Pains co-star and on-screen girlfriend, Chelsea Noble.

Cameron fell in love with his Growing Pains co-star and on-screen girlfriend, Chelsea Noble. Image: Getty. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1991, the pair married when Cameron was 20 and Noble was 26. Nearly 30 years later, the pair are still married and have six children together, four of whom are adopted. 

Cameron has spoken about his “commitment to not kiss any other woman,” other than his wife on screen. If a acting role requires a kissing scene, his wife will dress up as the respective female and filmmakers will shoot the scene in silhouette, according to an interview he did with USA Today

In 2016, Cameron shared his conservative views on marriage, telling Christian Post: “Wives are to honour and respect and follow their husband's lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband...

"A lot of people don't know that marriage comes with instructions. And, we find them right there in God's word."

The response was an avalanche of criticism - something he’s become used to since stepping off the Growing Pains stage. 

Kirk Cameron with his wife Chelsea Noble in 2015. Image: Getty. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Countless controversies.

Over the years, Cameron has been at the centre of a slew of controversies surrounding his staunchly conservative viewpoints.

From his innocuous belief that the ‘perfect’ design of a banana - yes, the fruit - is proof of God’s existence, to his dangerous standpoint that homosexuality is “destructive”, the actor has publicly peddled his controversial perspectives for decades, despite the great level of backlash he receives every time.  

Infamously, Cameron sparked controversy for his homophobic views in 2012, when he expressed them during an interview on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight

"Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve,” Cameron said. “One man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either," explains Cameron. "So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't.”

The actor continued, calling homosexuality “unnatural...  detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilisation.”

Watch: Kirk Cameron calls homosexuality 'unnatural'. Post continues below. 


Video via CNN.

In the same interview, Cameron said abortion was “wrong under any circumstances”. 

Journalist Piers Morgan - no stranger to media storms himself - later tweeted: “I don't think this Kirk Cameron interview went entirely how he thought it would… #CNN”

ADVERTISEMENT

Advocacy organisation GLAAD launched a petition in response to the interview, titled: 'Tell Kirk Cameron It's Time to Finally Grow Up'.

His Growing Pains colleagues also condemned his comments. 

Alan Thicke, who played Cameron’s dad on the 80s sitcom, tweeted: "I'm getting him some new books. The Old Testament simply can't be expected to explain everything."

Tracey Gold, who played Cameron's sister, responded via Twitter: "I am a strong supporter of the #LGBT Community, and I believe in equal rights for all. #NOH8 #LOVE."

ADVERTISEMENT

She also gave an interview to E! Online, saying she “wanted to distance [herself] from those comments.”

"I think it's so important for every one person who is negative, that we are louder with love and support." 

Cameron issued a statement, apparently confused why “some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community”. 

"That is not true," he continued. "I can assuredly say that it's my life's mission to love all people." 

GLAAD deplored his statement, saying: “Cameron used his platform to attack gay Americans and is now attempting to play victim in an effort to sell his upcoming movie.” (At the time, he was promoting his documentary, Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure.)

Kirk Cameron's Christian films.

Cameron’s career took a completely separate turn to that of his former fellow castmates. He has continued acting, although only in films that promote his evangelical belief. 

In 2008, he played Caleb Holt in the drama film Fireproof, which is about a firefighter who saves his marriage by turning to God. As the New York Times said in their review of the film, “it hardly sounds like a recipe for box office success, let alone a best-selling book. But that’s what the film ‘Fireproof’ has spawned”. 

Alas, his next film was not as successful. 

In 2014, Cameron starred in Saving Christmas, which is a film about a man named Christian who is concerned that Christmas has become too materialistic and too far removed from the Bible. So he tries to save it, by putting the “‘Christ’ back in ‘Christmas’”. 

The film received a zero per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was voted the "worst movie ever" by IMDb users. In the Razzies - a sarcastic annual award show honouring the worst of film - Saving Christmas received four wins in the categories of worst picture, screenplay, actor and screen combo, which went to Cameron "and his ego," according to CNN

Indeed, the once-Hollywood heartthrob has managed to transform his early career success into one that is now synonymous with controversies and critically-slammed films. 

Feature image: Getty.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.