The Rev. Billy Graham is back at the pulpit in “Unbroken: Path to Redemption.”
Graham, who died in February at age 99, played a key role in Louis Zamperini’s life that wasn’t told in director Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film “Unbroken.” The film focused on how the one-time Olympic athlete survived at sea for 47 days after his plane was shot down in World War II and endured two harrowing years in a Japanese POW camp.
The follow-up “Path to Redemption” (in theaters Sept. 14) shows the spiritual chapter in Zamperini’s life, which began when he begrudgingly attended the evangelist’s Los Angeles Crusade tent in 1949. That pivotal moment is recreated in the film by preacher Will Graham, 43, playing his grandfather, as seen in this exclusive clip.
After the seeing Graham preach, Zamperini said he quit drinking to mask the pain of his prison camp horrors and stopped having nightmares. The two remained close friends until Zamperini’s death in 2014.
Will Graham says he was honored to answer the call to act as his famous grandfather.
“Preaching is something natural for me. Trying to preach someone else’s sermon, that was tough,” says Graham. “People say I sound like my granddad. That’s because we’re from Western North Carolina. People say I look like him. I hope I do, I’m part of him.”
Director Harold Cronk completely re-created the tent, known as the “canvas cathedral,” for filming. Graham was so blown away seeing it, he snapped photos on his iPhone.
“It looked spot-on, just a tad bit smaller. I was thrown back,” he says. “To see all the men and women dressed in the period clothes, it was like, this is what my grandfather would see in 1949. For me to see that with my own eyes was special.”
He acknowledges that it was “nerve-racking” to play his first, and likely only, acting role: “I think I’ll stay with preaching.”
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SOURCE: USA Today, Bryan Alexander