|Actor Paul Newman depicted Brett in the webseries era|
|First Appearance||Chapter One, Book One|
|Cause of Death||N/A|
|Spouse/Partner|| Julia Woodward
|“||I never wanted to let you down, friends…but I did. I let you down and I let myself down and I let Jesus down, when you think about it, because none of that did Him any favors in the end. All it did was elevate me to a status I was never comfortable with. You bought into the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. You thought I was a superhero. You revered me for all the wrong reasons. You put your faith in the wrong person, and I let you do it. And for that, I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.||”|
— Brett Woodward, Book Four
Brett Russell Woodward (August 9, 1934 - ) is the former (as of book four) pastor of First Baptist of Haven Park. He is married to the former Julia March, he is Terri Englund's older brother and Shane Marcette's best friend.
Brett was born in 1934, the older child and only son of John and Ella Woodward. He was raised in the church he now pastors, and met Shane in grade school. The two have been best friends ever since, embarking on many an adventure together in their younger days, including a time when they went drinking in Laramie and someone attempted to pick a fight with Brett by coming at him with a pool cue. From a very early age, Brett was also very protective of his adopted younger sister Terri, acting as her support system and confidante.
Brett broke his hand at young age, forcing the naturally right-handed youngster to become left-handed. He said in book three that his hand was slammed in the car door, through an act of carelessness, but it was strongly implied in part three of the Fireworks interlude that John Woodward might've been responsible. References were made throughout book three of Brett's disdain for a certain "him", as well as allusions to abuse in his childhood.
Blessed with good looks and an easy charisma, Brett attracted attention everywhere he went, but always maintained a shy and humble nature. It was this quality that initially attracted Julia, when they met while Brett was working in a hardware store. Julia was immediately taken by his good looks and gentle nature, and the two married in 1959. They have no children.
It was revealed in book three that Brett hardly aspired to become a small town pastor. His original dream was to move to New York and become an actor. It was something he confided to Julia early in their relationship, and something she immediately discouraged. In the end, Brett chose a more humble path and first served as children's pastor at First Baptist, before assuming the role of lead pastor in 1963. Since then, he's become a pillar of the community, known for his unconventional ways. As he likes to point out, he is not your typical preacher. Brett focuses more on love and acceptance in his sermons than the rough consequences of sin, and, as Michael notes in book three, he "smokes, has tattoos, listens to the Stones and pulls his own weeds." Despite this unconventional image, his parishioners adore him, and often look to him for counsel.
John and Ella Woodward were killed in an accidental fire just ten days before Christmas, 1965, an event that left Brett and his sister Terri scarred. In response, Brett put on a brave face, but privately waged a war within himself and even briefly doubted the faith he'd held all of his life.
Julia's affair and reaction:
In book one, it was revealed that Brett's wife of almost seven years, Julia, was conducting an affair behind his back with small-time con artist Jeff Howard. Brett appeared oblivious to this at first, but the audience and later Julia eventually realized that he knew. It was revealed in book two that Brett was aware of her affair, and he found it impossible to resist saying so. After coming home and discovering Jeff in his home with Julia, Brett showed a rare display of anger and alluded that he knew precisely what she was up to. After that, he went to the bar and later to his friend Shane, where he drank heavily and told Shane all about it. Shane did not appear to take him seriously, but realized later that it was true.
The next morning, Brett came back home at Julia's urgings, and they talked about her affair. Julia stumbled all over herself with apologies, while Brett struggled to restrain how he was really feeling about such a betrayal. He refused to listen to Julia's apologies or explanation, even going so far as to ask if she wanted him to move out, or if she wanted to be the one to go, before retreating to the bedroom to ease his hangover.
Stabbing and aftermath:
See also: Book Three's Score Chart
When Terri discovered her husband's murder, she immediately presumed her boyfriend Caleb Hennessy was the one to do the deed, and escaped back to Haven Park. The first person she went to see was her brother. Though she feared that he would judge her for her involvement with someone like Caleb, he did not. That night, Terri went to the police station to tell them what she knew about the drifter and the next day, Caleb placed a call to First Baptist, demanding to know her whereabouts. Brett attempted to play dumb, but Caleb told him that if he didn't tell him where Terri was, he was going to kill him. Brett slammed down the phone and went to check on his sister at that point, making sure to tell his secretary Marnie to alert Shane and the police about this recent turn of events.
From there, he whisked his sister to a secluded motel and confided in her that Julia had been having an affair. He confessed how broken he was, and alluded to an abusive upbringing. Terri did her best to console him, but Brett seemed convinced that he'd let his congregation down by the turn his personal life had taken. Later that night, he alarmed Julia by staying out until almost ten, and when he returned home, she found that he'd been stabbed twice in the side.
Brett's injuries were grave, and he lost a lot of blood, but his condition improved over the next few days, making him the only (thus far) victim of the killer to survive. When he awoke from the ordeal, he had no memory of the event, repeatedly asking what had happened. It was Shane that provided the details and Brett asked what, if anything, Caleb Hennessy had said about why he did such a thing. Shane admitted that he wasn't allowed to talk to Caleb after kicking him during his capture, and Brett told him that he needed to stop doing that, but refused to elaborate any further.
Later that evening, Julia paid him a visit and Brett asked her where it all went wrong. He recounted their initial meeting, and asked if Julia had ever loved him. She insisted she had and still did, but Brett pointed out that she didn't like much of anything about him, so he found it impossible to believe it was ever love. Believing she had merely used him to obtain status, and was out to transform Jeff in the same way she'd done him, Brett asked for a divorce.
Recovery and resignation:
As he recovered, Brett had time to ponder his place in the ministry, and came to the decision that it was best to resign as pastor of First Baptist. He first discussed this with Terri, who did her best to talk him out of it, before conceding that she would support whatever he chose. Brett felt that he had nothing left to offer the congregation, especially given the way his life had fallen apart, and believed they would hate him if they knew who he really was.
When he came home from the hospital, Brett was forced to confront the harsh reality that Julia had moved out in his absence. He was also forced to confront memories of getting stabbed, as Julia had neglected to take care of the blood that was left on the living room floor. Unable to cope with both the physical and emotional pain, Brett took full advantage of his pain pills and spent much of the morning in a stupor. When Shane arrived to break the news of Caleb's suicide, he and Brett had a very bizarre conversation, in which Brett advised him to find more constructive ways to spend his time, rather than drinking so much.
The pills took their toll and Brett slept, in his chair, for most of the day. When he awoke, from yet another vivid dream, he immediately reached for more pills in order to quiet his raging spirit. He made it to the bathroom, but dropped the pills all over the floor before he could take any of them. In short order, Brett ended up on the floor as well, where he finally broke down and begged Jesus to help him. The cold realization that his life had still fallen apart, despite all of his faith in God, devastated him, but he still found himself hoping for a miracle. That miracle arrived in the form of Terri, who did her best to comfort him, though Brett did his best to downplay how miserable he was.
The next morning, Brett surprised everyone by coming to the church, but he was in an uncharacteristically sour mood. When Shane arrived, he was shocked to find his friend so together, especially after what a mess he'd been the day before. Shane attempted to tell Brett that he needed to focus on himself right now, but Brett said that he didn't want to -- that all he'd been thinking about was himself for the past ten days, and that if he thought about himself any longer, he would probably lose his mind. Talk then turned to Caleb's suicide, and Brett admitted that he already knew (presumably, having been told by Terri the night before). Shane apologized for the fact that Brett would not get any justice, and told him that he deserved better. Brett said that Caleb did too, much to Shane's surprise. He said that Caleb came from a similar home and that they both had significant trauma in their lives. Brett, however, was the one that everyone deemed better off, though he wondered aloud if that was really the case. Unexpectedly, Brett broke down in front of Shane and confided his plans to resign as pastor of First Baptist.
That morning, he reluctantly took to the pulpit and delivered a sermon that doubled as a long apology to his congregation. He confessed that he hadn't been genuine, and that he'd tried to be what they needed him to be, but he couldn't pretend any longer. He apologized to them for the deception, and admitted that he was broken right now, resigning as pastor on the spot. Later, he went home and took more pills, pondering what was next. He thought about Julia, and how much better off without him she would be. He felt the same way of the church. Terri joined him and emotionally confided that despite everything, she still had feelings for Caleb. Brett told her that he understood, before the pills took hold. He asked Terri to stay with him -- something that surprised both of them -- and told her that she was going to make a good mother before slipping into a deep, narcotic-induced sleep.
Another Place and Time:
In part one of the Another Place and Time interlude, taking place in the alternate timeline of 1981, Brett has moved from Haven Park and renounced the ministry, selling insurance in the Cheyenne suburb of South Greeley. He has also divorced Julia, and steams over her inability to keep a consistent visitation schedule, so he can see their ten-year old daughter Kate. It is said that Julia does not approve of his lifestyle (which includes a pregnant girlfriend named Tina and what appears to be a fairly substantial cocaine dependency) and Brett believes this might be the reason that she does not want Kate to visit. Unexpectedly, he gets a call from Elaine Pierce, the wife of former mayor Clayton Pierce, to inform him her husband passed away the night before and inquire if he would be able to officiate at the service. Surprised, Brett refuses, as he does not do that sort of thing anymore. Mrs. Pierce is clearly disappointed by this. Minutes later, Shane calls, to give him the warning that Mrs. Pierce had already called him looking for Brett's number. Brett relates that she has already called. Their conversation is somewhat bizarre, as it is clear that Brett is under the influence of cocaine, but they converse as normally as possible. Brett tells Shane that he should not allow Carol to pull the stunts she pulls with him, while Shane encourages Brett to become more involved in Tina's pregnancy. Then, Shane announces he has to make a campaign stop and tells Brett to "go easy on that shit", reminding him of what happened "last time." Brett promises he will, even as he is digging through his desk drawer for more drugs.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams (the prequel):
Book 4.5 finds Brett working as a delivery driver for his brother-in-law Lance at The Chair Emporium, alongside an older man named Louie. On his 27th birthday, Brett delivers furniture to the future home of Carol and David Mathison, where he endures Dave's ribbing about everything from his driving, to his lack of success, to even the apartment he used to maintain with Shane, but keeps his mouth shut and tells Louie that he is used to it and doesn't consider it a big deal.
Later that night, Louie takes him out for drinks, where conversation quickly turns personal. Expected to ask a "good question", Brett asks Louie about the first girl to break his heart. After Louie relates the story of his long-lost love Annmarie, he asks Brett the same question, and Brett remembers a former girlfriend named Lucy. Louie surprises him by knowing the family, having lived down the road from them, and asks what happened. Brett tells him he isn't quite sure, as the breakup came out of nowhere -- and it wasn't even Lucy who broke up with him, it was her father, a strict Mormon named Glenn Duncan. Soon, they are joined by Shane, and Louie brings up their earlier encounter with Dave, using it as an example as to how Brett needs to learn to stick up for himself. Shane takes issue with this, but Brett again says it isn't a big deal and opts to go play pool with his friend to alleviate some of the tension.
After talking Shane through his latest romantic crisis, Brett drinks some more, then gets a ride home from Louie. In the truck, he rambles about how he hopes to get old enough to accomplish something, stating he hopes he can someday die on his feet, then suggests they call up Glenn Duncan to tell him what an asshole he is, much to Louie's amusement. After trying, and failing, to unlock the door several times, he finally stumbles inside to find Julia, his parents and her mother waiting for him. Brett's father wastes little time calling him out on his drunken state, and spends the rest of the evening dressing him down until Julia's mother finally speaks up for him. This causes Julia to get involved, all while Brett and his mother watch helplessly on the sidelines. Knowing that he has to intervene before the situation gets even worse, Brett speaks up, but before he can say what is really on his mind, Terri arrives, solo. She tells him that she wants to talk to him, privately, and mentions Lance being upset with him, but Brett pays little mind to this, allowing the alcohol to get the better of him and passing out in the middle of his party.
A short time later, Terri wakes him up to tell him she is about to leave, and ask where the truck is. At first, Brett doesn't know what she is talking about, but the gravity of the situation appears to set in when Terri recounts how angry Lance is that he and Louie took off in it, and is promising to fire people. Brett almost admits that the whole thing was Louie's idea, but realizes that Louie has a lot more to lose than he does, and assumes full responsibility. Though clearly disappointed, Terri concocts a plan to lie about the whole thing, telling Lance that the truck unexpectedly broke down and Louie was forced to fix it on the fly, Brett is surprised that she'd suggest he lie, but she refuses to back down, saying it is the only way he can keep his job. She also makes him promise to never do anything of the sort again.
Character conception and representation:
In the original version of the story, Brett had a much smaller part. He was around to preach funeral after funeral and counsel those that were left behind, but other than that, he didn't figure prominently into the story.
In the current incarnation, Brett is best described as a flawed man of faith. He takes his calling and his congregation seriously, but he is just as human as anyone else. A good 30 years younger than the majority of his parishioners, he often alienates them with his more modern approach. He is reclusive and non-confrontational, often growing depressed and never sharing too much of himself with others, not even his closest friends and family.
During Independence Day's webseries era, actor Paul Newman served as Brett's visual representation.
Of the entire canvas, Brett is my favorite character to write. His rapport with Shane reminds me a great deal of Phoenix and T.J., two central characters on a prior webseries of mine, Behind Closed Doors.