It feels like the stuff of another staged celebrity meltdown: A wealthy child star, Angus T. Jones, sits down with a mysterious religious figure to denounce his show and pledge himself to Jesus. The white 19-year-old also talks about seeking an all-black congregation, telling his African-American interviewer, "Black people rock."
Adding to the oddness: Jones starred with Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men" before Sheen left the show in one of the most spectacular flameouts in broadcast history.
But if Jones' statements seemed like a Sheen imitation — or like he was pulling a Borat, Bruno or Joaquin Phoenix — there was little question about his sincerity when he spoke to a Seventh-Day Adventist group last month, on his 19th birthday.
His lowkey remarks then seem to suggest that at the very least, he's keeping his story straight.
Jones mostly escaped notice when he spoke to the Adventist group about his parents' divorce, using drugs and keeping his virginity. (The audio is here.) He said at the time that it was "very weird being on a television show, especially now that I'm trying to walk with God because my television show has nothing to do with God and doesn't want anything to do with God."
He added that he has a year left on his contract: "I know God has me there for a reason for another year."
Jones drew far more attention Monday when an online interview emerged in which he described "Two and a Half Men" as "filth" and urged people not to watch it. Many met the remarks with skepticism, in part because of their context: He made them in a poorly edited testimonial to a religious figure who calls himself The Forerunner and argues that rappers like Jay-Z and A$AP Rocky support Satanism with occult messages in their music and videos.
It's unclear how closely Jones is connected with The Forerunner. In the video, he said he emailed the interviewer after seeing his videos and that The Forerunner then contacted him and came to California to meet with him.
"Your videos have no doubt been a blessing to me," Jones says in the video, sitting next to The Forerunner. "People see me and they're like 'Whoa, you're Jake.' I see this guy and I'm like, dang. Man of God. Forerunner, right here. I can touch him."
He embaces The Forerunner. They agree that "God is great," and then clasp hands. And then Jones declares Jake, his character on "Two and a Half Men," to be "nothing" and urges people to stop watching the show.
Surprising as the comments might be, they are consistent with the ones he made at the Advent Media Center in Simi Valley on Oct. 8, his 19th birthday. Describing his spiritual journey, he says he always attended Christian schools, but wasn't very religious.
His grades began to dip two or three years ago, when his parents began to have "marital issues" and decided to divorce. He had begun dating a girl, he said, "and when I look back now, I see that as like the time when the enemy was trying to push me in a direction but God knew in the end he was gonna pull me right out at the last second."
He said he began avoiding home and spending as much time as possible with friends and his girlfriend.
"Slowly, that led to drugs — it wasn't ever too bad… I never drank, that was one thing that God protected me from, and I'm still a virgin, so God protected me from those things," he said.
He said around December of 2011 and January of 2012, he was unsure whether he would return to "Men." Ashton Kutcher had recently replaced Sheen.
He began to question whether he was doing the right thing. Soon after, he said, he accepted God.
Later, he said, "Jesus or the Holy Spirit" spoke to him through a friend, and he resolved to follow God more seriously. He began going to several churches every Sunday, looking for one with a "primarily African-American congregation." That led him to Valley Crossroads Seventh-Day Adventist Chuch also in Simi Valley.
He repeated the story in his talk with The Forerunner.
"I guess you could say I was looking for like a black gospel theme because I like black people," Jones says. "I'm not afraid to say it."
Watch Jones speak with The Forerunner: