EXCLUSIVE: Back in January, I told you about the effort to mount Machine Gun Preacher, a fact-based drama directed by Marc Forster. Gerard Butler was keen to play reformed bad guy Sam Childers, a drug-dealing biker who found God and became the scourge of rebel forces who kidnap children in the Sudan and Northern Uganda and force them to become sex slaves or child soldiers. Well, the film’s is now a reality, as Lionsgate has committed to be domestic distributor, and Mandate International handling foreign sales. Shooting starts this summer.
Michelle Monaghan has just committed to play Childers’ wife, Lynn, who cleaned up her own demons while Childers did a stretch behind bars, and struggled to keep their family together in Detroit while he went to Africa to establish an orphanage to house 300 children. He had to stay there and run an armed militia to protect the kids and thwart other kidnappings by rebels under the command of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Michael Shannon is also in talks to join the film, playing a close friend of Childers who stayed with his wife while he was away in Africa. His character is pivotal in the plot.
Forster is producing with Robbie Brenner, Craig Chapman, Gary Safady and Debora Giarranta . Brad Simpson and Myles Nestel are executive producers. Safady (a real estate entrepreneur who paid for development) and Nestel were key to getting the picture funded. The script was written by Jason Keller from Childer’s memoir Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan.
The film is a real chance for Butler to show some of that raging intensity he displayed as King Leonidas in 300, but it’s also his chance to show some real acting chops. Same for Shannon and Monaghan, who won the female lead over several other aspirants. Monaghan recently completed the Sofia Coppola-directed Somewhere, the Todd Phillips comedy Due Date and she just wrapped Source Code opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.