How Family and Compassion Brought Singer-Actor Joel Smallbone to Priceless

Joel Smallbone and David Koechner from Priceless
Joel Smallbone and David Koechner from Priceless

Joel Smallbone of For King and Country Stars in Human-Trafficking Drama Priceless

Making “Priceless” was a family affair for Joel Smallbone, the singer from the Grammy-winning Christian-crossover duo For King & Country who showcases his acting skills in the drama about human trafficking.

His brother Ben Smallbone is the director. His other brother Luke — his partner in For King & Country — is one of the producers. So’s their father, David Smallbone.

But it’s one more member of the Smallbone family who comes to mind when Joel talks about this film about a desperate man who takes money to transport cargo across country with no questions asked, only to find that what he’s actually delivering two young women.

“It’s my wife’s birthday today,” Smallbone tells Made in Hollywood reporter Julie Harkness Arnold. “In fact, I wrote her a little card this morning. And her charisma, her character, her strength is something that I think allows me to be the man that I am in many ways.”

Joel Smallbone and David Koechner on the Serious Messages Behind Priceless

Smallbone, married to actress Moriah Peters since 2013, says that “Priceless” sends a strong message about the toll human trafficking takes on women around the world, a sentiment shared by costar David Koechner, usually a comic actor who jumped at the chance to appear in this drama.

“I have three daughters,” he says. “It’s something that’s close to my heart, to think of any young woman in peril, and it is going on right now. Right now, as we’re speaking, there’s some woman being trafficked against her will.”

Koechner says that people often mistakenly believe that the women have chosen this life. “Really, they’re looking for a way out,” he says. “If there’s anything we can get from this movie, I hope it becomes prominent in people’s minds that it’s going on right now. You can make a difference.”

For Ben Smallbone, a commercials director making his first feature film with such a serious theme posed a particular challenge.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but also one of the the most meaningful things I’ve ever done,” he says. “Movies with meaning, movies with a message are definitely a passion of mine. I’ve wanted to do it for 20 years. ”