Katie Holmes Harnesses the Power of Positive Thinking in ‘The Secret: Dare to Dream’

One of the best-selling self-help books in recent years has inspired director Andy Tennant’s latest film, the feel-good drama “The Secret: Dare to Dream.” Katie Holmes stars as Miranda Wells, a widowed mother living outside of New Orleans with her three children, teen Missy (Sarah Hoffmeister), tween Greg (Aidan Pierce Brennan) and elementary schooler Bess (Chloe Lee). Despite her hard work, Miranda struggles to make ends meet, but a handsome stranger, engineering professor Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas), may have some of the answers to her problems.

“The Secret: Dare to Dream” is in many ways similar to a faith film, but instead of the Bible, Tennant, who co-wrote the adapted screenplay, looks to the wisdom of Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.” For those unfamiliar, “The Secret” preaches the power of positive thinking. Bray puts it best when he explains how our thoughts are like magnets. Early on, after Miranda rear-ends his car and he fixes it, a storm hits and she invites him to eat with her and her kids. He talks the young ones through manifesting their ideal dinner, pizza, and in mere moments, a delivery guy shows up at the door with boxes containing the pies they wanted, favorite toppings and all.

However, the pizza didn’t exactly appear out of thin air. They were ordered by Tucker (Jerry O’Connell), Miranda’s boss who also happens to be her boyfriend. Handsome and wealthy, Tucker seems like the perfect guy, at least on paper, and a marriage would put an end to Miranda’s financial troubles. Even Bobby (Celia Weston), Miranda’s loving would be mother-in-law who acts as her support system, encourages a legal union between the two. However, while Tucker always strives to do the right thing, he’s overly cautious, and it soon becomes apparent that Bray is a better emotional match, not just for Miranda, but also for her kids.

In real life, O’Connell is a devotee of “The Secret,” having received a copy of the book ten years ago from a colleague, his “Crossing Jordan” co-star Boris Kodjoe. “At first, I was a little trepidatious, obviously, a little cautious about being given a self-help book, but upon reading it, it really helped me through a difficult time professionally,” he revealed to Entertainment Voice. “I don’t know; maybe I manifested being in a scripted version of it.”

O’Connell, who is married to actor Rebecca Romijn, has good reason to believe in “The Secret.” I don’t want to freak you or my wife out, but I may or may not have carried a photo of her in my wallet for ten years before I met her.”

Still, he related to Tucker. “I’m a pretty cautious guy. It’s really funny, I know everytime you’re an actor and you play someone, you’re supposed to look for something to sympathize and recognize with the character, even if you’re playing a bad guy. I wouldn’t say I’m a bad guy in this film. I’m not like Gollum or anything, but I am the person who’s maybe holding Katie Holmes’ character back. But I am a pretty cautious person. I really am. It’s probably why I’m married to my wife. I’m always saving money; I never want to spend it. My wife is always, like, ‘just spend it,’ and I never want to. Maybe that’s why I got the role. Maybe I wasn’t just manifesting it. Maybe I play things too safe.”

Tucker may not be “the one” for Miranda, but there is a mutual respect between the two, and O’Connell and Holmes have a sweet chemistry, making their characters almost touching to watch together. According to O’Connell, in real life Holmes is not all that different from Miranda, who not only put her children first, but also encourages open communication.

“Katie is the best,” gushed her co-star. “Great actress, great person, great mom. It was really interesting to see how she balanced work and being a mom. When I’m at work, I relish it. I don’t even turn my phone on. I don’t want anything to do with my kids; I’m at work, but Katie is positively inspiring as a mother.”

As for Bray, while he’s supportive and sensitive, he’s not exactly perfect, as he’s harboring a secret, one that brought him to Miranda — they didn’t just meet by chance. When we first see him, he’s carrying a manilla envelope for her, but he has a hard time finding the right moment to give it to her, even after he offers to patch up her storm-damaged roof. There’s something holding him back, and the envelope, along with his reluctance and possible guilt about some unspoken thing, creates an air of mystery.

Just like with Holmes, O’Connell had nothing but praise for Lucas. “Josh is a true example of a movie star. It’s like working with Paul Newman. You just get lost in his eyes during scenes.”

The Louisiana setting adds richness to the film, not just because of the scenery, both in New Orleans and in the greener area in which Miranda lives, but the storm that blows through early on casts an uncertainty that is sure to be relatable to those watching at home.

“It’s funny, the movie takes place around a storm that has wreaked havoc on everyone’s life,” said O’Connell. “Somebody pointed out to me that the storm can almost be an allegory for anything, even what we’re all going through now, something that’s completely unpredictable and you have no control over it.”

Despite his initial disappointment over “The Secret: Dare to Dream” being pulled from theatrical release due to the pandemic, O’Connell has managed to find the rainbow at the end of the storm. “It was supposed to come out in theaters in April, but that’s not happening. Nobody’s going to theaters. When they said they were going to release it on [video-on-demand], I was a little bummed about that, because it’s not the same as going to a premiere. But the people at Lionsgate said, ‘No, this is the right time for this movie to come out. The message is really right for right now.’ They’re right. I think it’s a positive film in a crazy time.”

The Secret: Dare to Dream” releases July 31 on VOD.