Faith and Hollywood: 10 Quotes From Screenwriter Tom Bernardo
“Tom Bernardo is a treasure and a fantastic writer!” according to “Bosch” star Titus Welliver.
Bernardo worked as a staff writer for the hit series. Bernardo is a faithful Catholic, with an undergraduate degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and a law degree from Notre Dame. He became a writer after practicing law, and worked his way up from writer’s assistant to staff writer on the hit original Amazon Studios crime drama. Bernardo joined Michael Coy and Michael Shaneyfelt of the Ex Corde Center for Catholic Media for an in-person Q&A on Feb. 17. Here are 10 brief excerpts.
My writing career started out as a love of story. We are a storytelling animal. Story is as important to the human person as food and air. It is crucial to our survival, and spirituality. Story is paramount.
From high school on there was always someone who helped me out. Someone would always show up and help me. That is the hand of God.
Dennis Lehane was a crime novelist. I remember picking up his book called Mystic River when it first came out. I read it and I said, “This is what I want to write.” It was about the working class, but was written at a high level with Shakespearean themes, with great language. Meeting Dennis was the hand of God. Everybody knows those instances. I was having a tough time. He did a Q&A at a Barnes & Noble. … He gave me his email and we stayed in touch — which I know now he never does — and he’s the one who really guided me to this kind of writer. That’s God’s work. That’s his hand.
On Flannery O’Connor
Reading Flannery O’Connor was significant for me. She is shocking in ways contemporary audiences don’t always get. It took me years to crack the code. You read her and say, “What is that?” I thought of her today when a gust of wind blasted through me. She writes about how grace is like that.
Flannery O’Connor would be nothing without her faith. People who read her and don’t believe miss the boat. O’Connor writes about this moment of grace that breaks through the world’s defenses. An offer of grace that is often rejected, and that’s the story.
Harry Bosch is a jaded character. I don’t care if he’s an atheist or a believer, he believes in justice. He feels like he is trying to be a voice for the voiceless — his motto is “Everybody counts or nobody counts.” You can’t tell me you believe in nothing when you believe in that. When you’re participating in that, you’re participating in the divine.
Keeping Your Faith in Hollywood
The West has dumbed down the faith to the point where people don’t even know what they’re giving up when they leave the faith.
When you go out in the world you have to face all these different worldviews. I had no idea how hostile it was. Thank God my faith was solid before I went to L.A. Left to my own devices, it’s not pretty. I watched Father Barron early on, and that was amazing for me. It’s God’s grace that preserves your faith. Rosary. Adoration. Mass is crucial. You’re going to need that. It’s a tough industry.
The Sacramental Sensibility
So much of the sacramental sensibility is to see the world for what it is, but also to see what it points to, beyond. We are informed by that when we go to Mass and see the Eucharist, see how it looks and know that this is something utterly other. This tells you that there’s more.
I feel like hopelessness is the biggest struggle. When I look at the cross, I think that that’s the most appropriate way that God can enter into that question. The world looks at says that’s not a god, that’s a loser. And the people in pain say, “I get that.”