“The Brady Bunch” star Christopher Knight shares the impact the beloved 1970s sitcom had on his childhood.
The 65-year-old actor, who played middle son Peter Brady during the show’s five seasons from 1969 to 1974, recently spoke to Fox News Digital about his latest project, the documentary “Truelove: The Film.”
During his interview, Knight explained that although he had “so many” fond memories of filming the TV series, he said it was in hindsight that he realized how much the experience had changed his life for the better.
“Oddly enough, this show has grown in visibility, impact and importance over time,” Knight said. “So looking back on it, it’s bigger than what it was when we were experiencing it. So most of these epiphanies and revelations come not from this show but from looking back on it. And mine is that I have been partly saved.”
He continued, “I don’t know how many kids in entertainment can say that actually, the entertainment industry saved them. It taught me the importance of getting along.”
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“And I don’t know if I would have learned that if I didn’t have the show to embrace and the environment to reflect on myself, because it wasn’t home. I’m a much better person for as a result of the experiment.”
“The Brady Bunch” follows the lives of a blended family living in a suburb of Los Angeles. In the series, widower Mike Brady (Robert Reed), who has three sons, marries Carol (Florence Henderson), mother of three daughters.
Peter’s brothers, Greg and Bobby, were played by Barry Williams and Mike Lookinland, respectively. Carol’s daughters included Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb), and Cindy (Susan Olsen).
Unlike the perfect family Knight was a part of on TV, the actor has previously said his own childhood was difficult. During a 2013 appearance on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” Knight described his family as “nothing like ‘The Brady Bunch’.”
“They actually hated it,” he said. “My mother hated ‘The Brady Bunch’.”
He explained that his father, who was a stage actor, and his mother, who was an artist, had no respect for television actors. “Television was just a place to go to make money, because real actors were working on stage,” he said of his parents’ views.
Knight recalled that his family was in a dire financial situation early in his childhood.
“My family is very educated and almost homeless, and that’s how I grew up.” he remembered. “My dad was unemployed. Literally his solution in the beginning, when there was no money – and there was my brother and I, 13 months apart – he was like, ‘Feed them all two days.” I think that’s when my mom said she realized there might be a problem.”
Knight, who starred in “The Brady Bunch” at age 10, said he felt “driven” to become a child actor to support his family.
“I feel totally prostituted at that moment by my mother,” he said. “I think in a way I totally was, and by her own admission I was and she was sorry about it.”
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He continued: “It was (completely) a survival instinct on his part. It’s going to work. We’re going to exploit this as much as we can, and we’ll have a certain level of security because there’s never been a problem .” for the family.”
“And you know, at the same time, I’m like, ‘Yeah, but it’s sacrificing me in the process,'” Knight recalls. “Maybe it was conscious on his part. Maybe it was worth the sacrifice.”
Nonetheless, the New York native shared that joining the entertainment industry at a young age became his “salvation.”
“I would never suggest to someone that, for their own psychological well-being, they should turn to the entertainment industry to save themselves,” he said. “But that’s kind of how it worked for me.”
In 2019, Knight and his close friend and Emmy-nominated producer Phil Viardo founded the production company Former Prodigy Media. In April, the duo presented their first documentary, “Truelove: The Film,” at the 22nd annual Beverly Hills Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature.
“Truelove: The Film” focuses on Callie Truelove, a 16-year-old girl with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder “characterized by mild to moderate intellectual disability or learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features and heart problems.” and blood vessel (cardiovascular) problems,” per Medline. Many people with Williams syndrome also have outgoing and social personalities and “tend to be extremely interested in others.”
According to its official synopsis, the documentary follows Callie as she “travels across America to meet other people with Williams syndrome and help them tell their stories.” Callie’s goal is to spread her unique brand of unconditional love and Williams Syndrome awareness, while also shining a light on Williams Syndrome. others with Williams syndrome.”
WATCH: ‘Brady Bunch’ Star Christopher Knight Talks About the Inspiration Behind His New Documentary ‘Truelove: The Film’
Knight told Fox News Digital that Viardo approached him with the idea of making a documentary about Callie’s life after discovering her on YouTube.
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“She just had this overwhelming sense of charm and was able to disarm and bring together everyone who was around her,” Knight said.
He continued: “She had an impact, a very visible impact in creating unity. And she just dispensed love. And her real name was Truelove. That’s kind of the last word. Should- we move forward with this project? Yeah, well, with this, yeah, I guess we have to because the idea was to follow her and see how she makes the world a better place.”
Knight said he and Viardo were unfamiliar with Williams syndrome, but Callie became their “entry point” to learning about the disorder.
“And now we have a film that is in part a documentary to raise awareness about Williams syndrome and embraced by the Williams syndrome community as almost a teaching and learning vehicle for those who have just reached a diagnosis or those who know it but have trouble explaining what the syndrome is. It’s for their family. And it’s a benefit we could never have imagined when we started,” Knight said.
In addition to serving as executive producer, Knight also appeared in the documentary alongside a number of country stars, including Wynonna Judd, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Michael Ray.
Viardo told Fox News Digital that the Academy of Country Music runs a summer music program called Lifting Lives for people with Williams syndrome.
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WATCH: Christopher Knight Recalls Taking ‘Truelove: The Film’ Star Callie Truelove to Original ‘Brady Bunch’ House
“Every year they sponsor a Vanderbilt study, which started as a study called the Williams Syndrome Camp,” he said. “They bring together a lot of Williams individuals every year to bring in country artists and songwriters, and they create music together. And at the end, they perform at the Grand Ole Opry.”
He continued, “And all the while, they’re kind of doing research in the background. And so country music has embraced Williams. It’s musical camp, but it’s completely tied to country stars, and It’s the highlight of the year.”
“That’s another thing,” Knight added. “So Williams seems to predispose people with the genetic disorder to this incredible innate musical talent, musical talent and willingness to express themselves.”
Knight revealed that he brought Callie to the iconic Brady Bunch house, which recently sold for $3.2 million, early in production.
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“Callie was a fan of ‘The Brady Bunch,'” he explained. “We had the house at the time to show her when she first came to California. And we thought it might be a good starting point for this trip.”
Knight continued, “I’ve been prepared on my journey through life, tempered by this thing, ‘Brady.’ You know, and for me, it’s about family, and it’s about love that reigns in this house. And this is what she brings to the world, this side which, I believe, must be more.”
“And, you know, my whole life I’ve been told that our show creates (that) for those who watch it.”