Whatever Happened To Kirk Cameron?

Thanks to the success of the ABC sitcom Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron became a teen heartthrob. He even landed a Pepsi commercial during Super Bowl XXIV. But after seven seasons, Growing Pains was canceled in 1992. It was a blessing for Cameron, who was eager to chart a new path for his career and answer to a higher calling, even if he had to burn some bridges along the way. What happened to him after he left the limelight? Stay tuned.

He converted to Christianity

At the height of his fame, Cameron converted to Christianity and allegedly became an absolute nightmare to deal with on the set of Growing Pains. According to E! True Hollywood Story (via the Orlando Sentinel), Cameron wielded his star power to make sure the show portrayed themes and storylines that were in line with his new religious beliefs, and he wasn't afraid to go straight to network brass to get what he wanted. Several producers reportedly quit the show, and the ratings for Growing Pains plummeted in Season 7, prompting ABC to pull the plug.

By the time the smoke cleared, Cameron had alienated himself from the cast. "I definitely kind of made an about-face, going toward another aspect of my life," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2000. "I shifted my focus from 100% on the show, to 100% on [my new life], and left 0% on the show—and even the friendships that were a part of that show."

He allegedly had an actress fired because she posed for Playboy

Atress Julie McCullough joined the cast of Growing Pains as nanny Julie Costello in 1989. Despite being cast as a love interest for Cameron's Mike Seaver, McCullough was written off the show by 1990. According to Hollywood legend, when Cameron found out the actress had posed for Playboy in the past, he was furious with producers. He allegedly went so far as to call them "pornographers."

Cameron has denied having McCullough fired, asserting she was never meant to have a long-term role in the show, reported Us Weekly

There's also an uncorroborated internet rumor that alleges Cameron had Friends star Matthew Perry terminated from Growing Pains because he believed Perry was "satan." While that sounds pretty far-fetched to us, Cameron's faith and his professional life were certainly on their way to becoming one and the same.

He won't kiss anyone but his wife

With McCullough gone, Cameron used his influence to have his real-life girlfriend, Chelsea Noble, cast as Seaver's new TV girlfriend, Kate McDonald. The two married in real life during a summer hiatus from Growing Pains, which reportedly drove a wedge between Cameron and his TV family, who was not invited to the wedding. 

To his credit, Cameron regretted the decision in later years, telling the Los Angeles Times, "If I could go back, I think I could make decisions that were less inadvertently hurtful to the cast—like talking and explaining to them why I just wanted to have my family at my wedding." 

Cameron's relationship with Noble catalyzed another strict stipulation for the rest of Cameron's acting career. He would not kiss anyone but her. Even while filming Christian movies with other Christian actors, Cameron would reportedly make the cast and crew swap in his wife as a kissing double."

He tried another sitcom after Growing Pains

Despite the behind-the-scenes dramas on Growing Pains, Cameron managed to land a new sitcom, Kirk, on The WB. The family-friendly show featured an older brother raising his three younger siblings while chasing his dream of becoming a comic book artist. At the time, squeaky clean sitcoms were no longer the ratings draw they used to be, but The WB took a chance on Cameron, according to the Los Angeles Times

If none of this sounds familiar, it's probably because Kirk barely lasted two seasons and failed to make its mark on '90s television. 

He pivoted to only making Christian movies

With the exception of The Growing Pains Movie (2000), Cameron faded away from traditional Hollywood fare and turned his focus to making faith-based films. One of his most popular projects was the film adaptation of the hugely popular Christian book series Left Behind. Cameron signed on for three films that depicted the biblical end of days. 

They were not exactly the best movies. In fact, Left Behind author Tim LaHaye hated the first one so much that he sued to get the rights back, according to The Christian Post. However, the films did do well with Christian audiences, who have proved to be a profitable demographic

In 2008, Cameron promoted the film Fireproof by incorporating it into teaching kits on marriage and marketing it to churches. It earned $33 million at the box office, which was huge considering the film's next-to-nothing budget. Fireproof became the highest grossing independent film of 2008 and made Cameron a prominent figure in Christian circles.

He launched a crusade against Charles Darwin

After the success of Fireproof, Cameron and his ministry partner, Ray Comfort, declared war on the theory of evolution and set out blanketing college campuses with their version of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Their campaign made several controversial claims, including blaming Darwin for Nazi Germany. 

Needless to say, this did not go over well everyone, and many folks had a field day with Comfort and Cameron's claim that the banana proves God's existence. According to a now-infamous YouTube video, the banana's shape and design makes it easy to eat, so clearly it was created by a higher power. That's their big argument.

Except there's one small problem. The bright, yellow, easy-to-peel bananas that we know today are the result of human intervention and genetic modification. Sorry, guys.

He tried to go up against Stephen Hawking

Despite facing ridicule for his attempts to discredit evolution, Cameron decided it would be a good idea to throw shade at world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who had referred to heaven as a "fairy tale story for people afraid of the dark."

"Professor Hawking is heralded as 'the genius of Britain,' yet he believes in the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything and that life sprang from non-life." Cameron told TMZ. "Why should anyone believe Mr. Hawking's writings if he cannot provide evidence for his unscientific belief that out of nothing, everything came?"

For the record, Hawking is considered to be one of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world, while Cameron rose to fame because he was cast in a hit sitcom, despite the show's creators supposedly concluding that "he may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer" after his audition. We'll leave it up to you to decide who you'd rather believe.

He called homosexuality unnatural

In 2012, Cameron continued his habit of making controversial statements by telling Piers Morgan that homosexuality is "unnatural." Many in Hollywood were quick to denounce the former Growing Pains star, including his former TV dad, Alan Thicke, who'd reportedly had enough of Cameron's polarizing stances. "I'm getting him some new books," Thicke said in a statement (via the Advocate). "The Old Testament simply can't be expected to explain everything." 

Cameron's own sister, former Full House star and born-again Christian Candace Cameron-Bure, made a point to somewhat distance herself from her brother's public statements, telling The Christian Post that they have a "different way of saying the same things."

He accused Facebook of censorship

While promoting his 2013 movie Unstoppable, Cameron discovered that links to the film's website were allegedly being blocked by Facebook, which he attributed to an attack on Christianity

However, there was apparently a simple explanation: the address Cameron purchased for the movie used to be a spam site, which set off Facebook's filters. It was an honest mistake, and in a show of good faith, Facebook worked quickly with Cameron's team to reverse the block and issued a statement to The Christian Post to explain the kerfuffle.

Cameron continued to paint the situation as an act of a persecution. In a since-deleted follow-up post on Facebook he wrote (via The Hollywood Reporter,) "Victory!! Friends, you did it! People tried to stop 'Unstoppable' on Facebook, and because millions of us joined together as one voice, Facebook has apologized and welcomed us back! You all just demonstrated to the press (they are all calling me to talk about your amazing response!) that the communities of faith, hope, and love are, well...unstoppable."

He released the worst movie of all time

Despite finding financial success with Fireproof, Cameron earned the wrong kind of accolades with his 2014 holiday feature Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas. With a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film was voted the "worst movie ever" by IMDb users. It even cleaned up at the Razzies where, according to CNN, it scoured "four wins in the categories of worst picture, screenplay, actor and screen combo, which went to Cameron and 'his ego.'" Ouch.

He gave questionable marriage advice

After the crash and burn of Saving Christmas, Cameron turned his attention to speaking tours with his "Love Worth Fighting For" marriage ministry, but he found himself in hot water in 2016 when the press pounced on some questionable and arguably outdated advice.

"Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband's lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband," Cameron told The Christian Post. "When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage."

Cameron faced fierce backlash on social media for his remarks. Hey, what works for one marriage might not work for another. That's all we'll say about that.

Cameron is still keeping the faith

After enduring years of high-profile criticism for not shying away from the controversial views of his faith, Cameron is still soldiering on with his marriage seminars and has a movie due out in 2017. Even if you don't agree with his stances, you can't deny that Cameron sticks to his principles and won't change who he is to fit the Hollywood mold. He played that game in the '80s, and now the former sitcom star is forging his own path down a very bumpy road. Best of luck.