Regina Hall has considered being a nun twice. Well, maybe more than twice — she believes she actually was one in a past life. “That’s not necessarily where I’m gonna be in this lifetime,” she says. “I think I did it before and yearn for it sometimes. I’m like, Well, I want that again.”
This makes Hall, who considers herself spiritual and says she was drawn to the structure of her Catholic high school, an interesting foil for Trinitie Childs, her character in Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul, which arrives September 2. Trinitie is the First Lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch in Atlanta, and she and her husband, pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown), are trying to bury a scandal that made them social pariahs and drove away all but five of their congregants. They’re also optimistically gearing up to stage a major comeback by reopening their church, a mission that’s pretty clearly doomed from the get-go.
Trinitie is a tough nut to crack. As an audience member, you’re not exactly rooting for her — she’s vain, mean, and trying to salvage her image by defending her predatory husband — but at the same time, it’s viscerally painful to watch her choose the humiliation of sticking by Lee-Curtis again and again. With the exception of a few scenes, Honk for Jesus is framed as a “documentary” Trinitie and Lee-Curtis have commissioned to follow them leading up to the big reopening, which means Hall is playing someone acutely aware of the fact that she’s in front of a camera. She lets pain flicker across her face for only a split second before plastering on a sickeningly fake smile, a face Hall says developed naturally while she was “in Trinitie’s shoes.”
“Trinitie’s faith is so married to her image,” says Hall, who also produced the film. While her own relationship with spirituality is much more private, she certainly knows how to get in the mind of someone going to drastic lengths to mask her faltering faith.
Are you a church girl?
I wasn’t raised Catholic — my mom was nondenominational — but I went to a Catholic school where they had all these rituals. They had a stringent way that, as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate: the formalities, having to go to Mass, learning about saints.
I always have a relationship with God. Life is a bit too complex and challenging for me to not have a serious connection to God and faith. I don’t define that through a specific faith or religion, but there are things about Christianity that I absolutely love. There’s also things about Buddhism and Hinduism that I love. Those all sound at odds, but a deep and sometimes complex relationship with God has carried me through my difficult times. That relationship is much more than the building of the church itself.
Throughout Honk for Jesus, we sort of come to understand why Trinitie clings so desperately to the hierarchies and traditions of the church even as they’re failing her. Do you see any of yourself in her attachment to those things?
There’s been a struggle between what I have felt and what religion has taught. It’s very hard when what you’ve learned and what you believe are at odds. For Trinitie, there’s a part of her that really knows the truth, that she and Lee-Curtis’s marriage is broken. It’s probably never really worked. But included in this marriage is God, and divorcing your husband is divorcing the church.
You’ve considered becoming a nun. Do you ever come back to that?
I’ve realized that I don’t have to be a nun to go into that deep space of connection that I like about religion. I do love the idea of being a nun, and at one point I was like, I could live like this. But it’s not what was supposed to be for this lifetime. I like to believe I’ve done it many times before in a past life.
If you were a nun, we probably would not have gotten that excellent COVID pat-down moment at the Oscars.
I’m just trying to do my duty and help my country.
Anyone you wish you could have invited up?
Oh, God! A plethora. Timothée Chalamet, he came ready for his exam. Timothée, you’re already half-undressed. I should’ve had Andrew Garfield. Maybe Brad Pitt. There’s a lot of beautiful options out there. Which is clearly why I’m not a nun. I think I’m gonna make myself the permanent COVID tester.
Trinitie’s pride and joy is her hat collection. Are you a hat person?
I have some cute baseball caps when my hair’s not done. They’re certainly not thousands of dollars like Trinitie’s. But I find hats fascinating, and I love watching the Kentucky Derby or events in England with the queen. I’m, like, Oh, look at their hats!
It feels like you’ve been working nonstop for the past decade. What’s your dream day off?
I don’t take a lot of vacations because when I’m not doing press or shooting I want to be home! Everybody tells me to go away, and I’m like, I want to go to my house! That feels like away. On a day off, I would wake up and do a workout that’s not too intense and then have some great food. I love being in the house listening to music, a good documentary in there at some point. I’d take a little bit of time to read, and then I love watching the sunset. Did I mention really good food?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.