In "Machine Gun Preacher," award-winning actor Gerard Butler portrays Sam Childers. Childers is an ex-convict who gets his life right through the help of his wife, who has become a Christian. His newfound faith leads him to begin a crusade to save the children of Sudan by building an orphanage and rescuing them from the murderous clutches of the Lord's Resistance Army. I had a chance to speak with Butler about his role.
Were you affected or changed personally by seeing Sam preach in his church and being exposed to his mission?
Affected yes. Changed? I don't know if I was changed. I was born and grew up Catholic. I always tried to stay spiritual. I've been on many spiritual quests out to India and back. I've kind of formed my own spiritual path to the extent that I'm more spiritual than religious. I still have a strong draw toward religion.
When I see this movie being made and the power religion had in his life I go, "Is it really religion or is it God?" It's God that drives him. I love those kinds of stories because I do believe in the power of faith, belief, and purpose. That's one of the things that gave me a greater desire to sell the story.
What was your experience like being baptized for the film? Was it difficult channeling the emotions demanded for that scene?
That was not the most difficult scene for me. There were way more difficult scenes in the movie. Some of the earlier scenes in Detroit and in Africa. I've had so many moments that were life-changing or potentially life-changing in my own life. I put myself there. Just bringing up that fear, those nerves, and trying to pull in all my energy. I could feel the power of this great man, even though he was destructive, standing in this pool and knowing that everything was about to change. Holding all that energy. [Being] so scared and curled up like this baby. That's how I felt emotionally.
It was all built up as I stood there with my hands crossed. [Speaking as the character] Despite the fact that I was desperately unhappy, I didn't want to let go. It was all I had. All I had was this. By me going in that pool, I was handing it over to something else and that was a horrific prospect. I also remember thinking that at any point I might stretch out and rip the pastor's head off. I just tried to play it like this feeling that I could bite his head off or rip it off. I was very on edge.
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Eric Shirey is the founder and editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! TV, Associated Content from Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, KISSOnline.com, and other national entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Brooke Shields, Brendan Fraser, Michelle Monaghan, Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Gene Simmons, Ashley Tisdale, Selena Gomez and many more.
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- Gerard Butler