NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Stand By Me, Jerry Maguire and Crossing Jordan star Jerry O'Connell said his new positive-thinking film, The Secret: Dare to Dream, is coming out just when the world needs it.
"The world is really going through it right now, and this is about as positive a film as you are going to see. Everything happens for a reason, and I think there is a reason why we are coming out now," O'Connell told UPI in a phone interview Friday.
Based on Rhonda Byrne's 2006 best-selling self-help book, the romantic drama follows Miranda (Katie Holmes), a financially strapped widow and mother of three, who is dating her boss, Tucker (O'Connell), when Bray (Josh Lucas), a helpful stranger arrives in town and makes her realize that her negative outlook on life might be preventing her from being happier.
The film was scheduled for release in the spring, but was postponed when the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters.
Months later, it has been released on video-on-demand platforms during a time of great strife and uncertainty.
"People can take away what they want to take away from it," O'Connell said. "People who have read the book are going to really be into it because this is a fictional version of their favorite hits. I think people who haven't read the books might be inspired."
O'Connell first read The Secret years ago at the suggestion of his friend, actor Boris Kodjoe, who thought it might help O'Connell deal with a boss he didn't like.
"It really helped me through that professionally difficult time of my life. Maybe it was laws of attraction that I would be one of the actors in the film 15 years later," O'Connell said.
Both have worked in Hollywood since they were kids, but this marks the first time O'Connell and Holmes have collaborated. The closest they came was when she starred in the 2004 comedy, First Daughter, which he wrote. He was never on set for that project and didn't have the chance until now to get to know the Dawson's Creek and Ray Donovan actress.
"It was actually really inspiring working with her because not only is she a great actress, but she is a really great dedicated mom," O'Connell said. "When she was at work, she was always taking time out for her daughter [14-year-old Suri Cruise] and making sure her daughter was on homework."
While Miranda is torn between two suitors, they are both decent, likable guys. It's just that one is a good match for the young widow and the other isn't.
"I guess I am the bad guy in this, right?" O'Connell joked. "I am the Dr. Evil of The Secret. I am Lord Farquaad of The Secret."
Secret fans have been more supportive of the film than the Trekkies are about Star Trek: Below Decks, O'Connell's upcoming animated comedy series, which he describes as the Trek Rick & Morty.
"It's a big swing. I really hope Trek fans like it. They are a tough, tough, tough crowd. The Secret crowd? Very encouraging. Very nice on social media," he said. "Star Trek fans on social media? You better not mess with our franchise. We know where you live. We will come and get you."
The Secret also gave O'Connell the chance to work again with writer-director Andy Tennant, who helmed the pilot for the actor's 1990s sci-fi drama, Sliders.
"I wanted to show him how disciplined I've become in 24 years," O'Connell said. "I learned a lot from him when I worked for him, so it was really fun to be reunited."
Tennant said he always liked O'Connell and thought he would be the perfect actor to play Tucker.
"His energy is infectious. He is just a riot," Tennant said of the actor. "I wanted his character Tucker to be imminently likable and he is that."
Holmes, who wanted to play the down-on-her-luck character as realistic as possible, "was a bit of a revelation," Tennant added.
"We were trying to tell a real story about a real family," he said. "Katie is maternal, wicked smart, very kind and just a really decent person.
"I knew she was really good, but I had no idea how good until I got on set."
Like O'Connell, the filmmaker thinks The Secret was released at a time when viewers might benefit from a story about positivity, generosity and gratitude.
"There's so much ugly rhetoric out there. I think people have forgotten how to communicate and how to be kind and what empathy feels like and I feel like this is just a gentle reminder that we are all in this together," said Tennant, whose credits include Ever After, Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama.