Robert Easton was a tall imposing man at over six feet tall with his trademark long white hair. He took over a room seemingly before he even entered. Robert Easton looked the 'guru' part, and in fact was a teacher, a guru, and a support to a myriad of acting students who treasured him as the gem he was and treated him accordingly.
Robert Easton's career spanned over 60 years. He appeared on television, in movies, on the screen, working behind the scenes before his dream came true: a starring role, playing a teacher, a guru on the big screen mirroring in a sense his role in life. This character, John-Roger, gave him a meaning and resonance that impacted and changed his life in a wonderful way. Robert Easton came into being, he recognized, knew himself as a spiritual warrior both on and off the screen and he relished the role.
I remember Robert Easton in Gods and Generals, Paint Your Wagon, and especially Primary Colors but I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know him on Spiritual Warriors. Not many actors in their late 70s and not in the best of health would journey across the globe to Egyptian deserts and Jordanian lost cities, doing without the frills and trekking across sand dunes, journeying down the Nile and mounting pyramids, but Robert Easton was not any actor -- he was an intrepid soul and had the courage of his heart as his sword and the encouragement of his wife.
When co-writer and co-producer Jsu Garcia saw Easton he knew he had his man before Easton opened his mouth, before he formally met him. Easton didn't look like the real John-Roger but his gravitas, his sense of humor and the twinkle in his eye jumped out at Garcia -- he was more John-Roger in spirit than in look and that was the important, missing factor in all the actors Garcia had seen.
Spiritual Warriors is a dramatic interpretation of the best selling book, Spiritual Warriors, written by John-Roger, the founder of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, a movement I have been a part of even before I knew it existed physically. A movement I believe we all are a part of as we search inside ourselves for truth and meaning in life. The movie follows the journeys of Finn played by Jsu Garcia in his search with the help of his mentor and his wayshower, John-Roger, played by the one and only Robert Easton.
So off they all went to film sowing the tales Robert Easton enjoyed telling and retelling at Q & A's after Spiritual Warriors screenings. How June, his wife of over 44 years insisted he take the role and retrace their steps in Egypt even though she was clearly not well, and in fact passed away once the film was finished and Easton was home. He laughed at the lack of amenities out in the desert, the 120 degree heat, the 'hot' water, the almost meeting his maker in a tiny airport somewhere in a vast expanse of no man's land, but he was a staunch supporter of Jsu Garcia's vision. When faced with a mutiny over calling it a day or getting a transcendant sunset dune shot, Robert Easton opted for his art, his passion, and went the limit.
John-Roger, a spiritual leader to many, became an influence in Robert Easton's life. He embraced the principals, the teachings of his real life counterpart as he embraced John-Roger and Jsu Garcia. He enjoyed bringing his students to screenings and seeing himself up there on the big screen. Most of all enjoyed what he had endured, to achieve his dream. Robert Easton was a 'spiritual warrior' in his own right. He followed his dream, his bliss, his passion, and it manifested for him -- not to say he didn't enjoy dialect coaching everyone from Charlton Heston to Forest Whitaker, a talent showcased in Spiritual Warriors.
The Wayshower, John-Roger and Jsu Garcia's follow up film with a stoic Eric Roberts, a diabolical Peter Stormare, and an innocent Jsu Garcia, was to be Robert Easton's next. Alas even though he was in frail health and filming had begun, Robert Easton knew when it was time to draw the curtain. Instead of a lead role, he was a fan touting The Wayshower to his students and followers. His last scenes are in a "Behind The Scenes" compilation from The Wayshower and will be shown at his Memorial Service TBD. Robert Easton's passion for his art, his enthusiasm, inspired many. He will be missed.
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