This story about Joe Jonas and the film “Devotion” originally appeared in the Race Begins issue of TheWrap Magazine.
When Joe Jonas signed on to be a part of “Devotion,” director J.D. Dillard’s drama about the friendship between Naval aviators Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner during the Korean War, it had nothing to do with his day job as a singer. Instead, Jonas was hired to act in the film, playing a pilot who fought alongside Brown, one of the Navy’s first Black aviators. It was only later, after the film had been completed that Dillard asked Jonas if he’d be interested in writing and performing a song for the end credits.
“I’d been trying to separate the two passions of mine, acting and music, but this project was so dear to my heart that I wanted to do it,” he said. “It was exciting but also overwhelming.”
The fact that he’d played a role in the film, he added, changed the nature of the assignment dramatically. “Other projects have been pitched where I’ll watch the film or read the book and think of what I can do,” he said. “But being on set every day and getting to meet the families of some of these living legends and people that have passed, it makes you feel more connected.”
The key, he added, was to take the specific and make it universal. “I think there is only so much of my personal life that I feel like I can share that is relatable,” he said. “You have to say, ‘OK, how can I relate this for the audience?’ I only have a small understanding of what it is to be in the military through talking to some members of my family, but this story is relatable for people that miss their partner, miss their children, miss their grandparents.”
Jonas saw an advance cut of “Devotion” in West Hollywood with his wife, Sophie Turner, and his friend, singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder. “I was blown away by the film and so moved by the emotion of what we were watching,” he said. “There was a grand piano in the screening room, and at the end of the film, Ryan walked right up to the piano and started playing the first three chords of ‘Not Alone.’ We started the writing process right there.”