Written on the 19 May 2012 by Ms Kimberley Cole @ Jump the Q
He’s played everything from King Leonidas in the box-office smash 300 to a chauvinistic television presenter in The Ugly Truth; but, this is the role that bought Gerard Butler to tears.
In an interview with the LA Times to discuss his film, The Machine Gun Preacher, Butler explained how he would sometimes ‘just be overcome’ during filming and has cried a number of times in interviews about the film.
The movie tells the true story of Sam Childers, a former bikie-gang member and drug dealer, who finds God again and visits Africa to help repair the destruction caused by civil war.
Though told by many that he was crazy, Childer’s begins building an orphanage in an area controlled by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia force under the leadership of Kony. Upon discovering these forces were using children as soldiers Childers set out to save as many as he could, even leading armed missions against the LRA, which earned him the nickname ‘The Machine Gun Preacher’. To this day over 3500 orphans have been rescued from starvation, disease and enslavement thanks to Childers work.
Butler, who was also executive producer of the film, claims that the role was extremely meaningful to him for a number of reasons. In his early years Butler worked as lawyer, his unhappiness and dislike of the job however, led him to drug and alcohol abuse.
Though not on the same scale as the change Childer’s made in his life, Butler says knowing how big a step it is to completely change your direction in life, helped him in this role. As a member Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) Butler has also done humanitarian work of his own, even visiting Haiti, APJ’s current focus, a number of times.
Though the movie was released last year, it has been bought back into the spotlight in some areas due to the increase in the number of stories about the Lord’s Resistance Army since the social media outcry that resulted from Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video. The video, which has since been slammed for over-simplifying an alarming and complex issue, bought extra attention to the cause and hundreds of thousands of donations as compared to the $500 000 the movie grossed.
As with every true story there are naysayers who insist that Childer’s has not completed the work or helped the number of people he claims but, no matter which side you believe, the story of ‘The Machine Gun Preacher; who slept with a Bible in one hand and an AK47 in the other, is one to watch particularly, if you have ever said, "I can't change my life!".
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