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Billy Graham Being Played by Grandson Will as Filming Starts on a More Faithful 'Unbroken'

Billy Graham Being Played by Grandson Will as Filming Starts on a More Faithful 'Unbroken'
Billy Graham in his first stadium crusade more than 50 years ago. (Al.com/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 11 September 2017 10:30 AM

Filming has started on "Unbroken: Path to Redemption” in which Billy Graham will be played by his grandson Will Graham. The new, more faithful version of "Unbroken" which follows Louie Zamperini's life after the former Olympian survived a World War II POW camp and turned to Christianity went into production last Tuesday in Universal City.

The new movie stars Samuel Hunt of “Chicago P.D.” as Zamperini and Merritt Patterson of "The Royals" as his wife Cynthia, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Matt Baer, who produced the original film, is producing the sequel, which is being directed by "God Is Not Dead" director Harold Cronk. Pure Flix will distribute the film.

The movie takes up where Angelina Jolie's 2014 movie about Zamperini left off, the Observer noted. Jolie's film version of the best-selling book written by Lauren Hillenbrand didn’t include Zamperini's post-war religious conversion that helped him over alcoholism and post-traumatic stress and it didn’t include his relationship with the world-famous evangelist.

Zamperini died in 2014 at age 97.

"Billy Graham's message hit me between the eyes," Zamperini told the Observer in 2011 while talking about attending a 1949 Graham crusade. "Instead of leaving, I went back to the prayer room. And man, when I made a confession of my faith in Christ, I knew my whole life had changed. ... That was the first night in three years that I didn't have a nightmare. I haven't had one since."

Will Graham, vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said getting a chance to portray his grandfather on film was something he couldn’t say no to.

"Like my father and grandfather before me, I'm blessed to have been able to answer a call to evangelism," he said. "But knowing how God used Billy Graham in Louie Zamperini's life, I couldn't pass the opportunity to portray him in this inspiring story."

In Hillenbrand's book, the plane on which Zamperini was flying crashed into the ocean after experiencing mechanical failure, and he was left adrift for 47 days. He ended up being rescued by the Japanese and put into a concentration camp, where he was tortured.

The second half of Hillenbrand's book tells the story of Zamperini's battle with alcoholism and what is now known as PTSD. He was convinced by his wife to attend the Billy Graham crusade in 1949 where he became a Christian and turned his life around.

Christian fans of Hillenbrand's book were unhappy Jolie's film did not explore that facet of his life, and the makers of the new film hope to rectify that.

"I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to tell the amazing post-war story of Louis Zamperini's life that I am confident is going to appeal to both the secular and faith-based audience," Baer said.

"The life of American Olympian, WWII airman, castaway and POW Louie Zamperini is a story so extraordinary, it staggers the imagination," Hillenbrand said of the sequel. "I am so pleased to see his story brought back to the screen, where it will continue to inspire audiences."

The 2014 movie, which starred Jack O'Connell as Zamperini, was nominated for three Academy Awards and made $115 million domestically at the box office and another $47.8 million overseas, according to Box Office Mojo.

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Billy Graham will be played by his grandson Will Graham in a new, more faithful version of "Unbroken" which follows Louie Zamperini's life after the former Olympian survived a World War II POW camp and turned to Christianity.
billy graham, will graham, unbroken
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2017-30-11
Monday, 11 September 2017 10:30 AM
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