CENTRAL CITY —
Sam Childers went from drug dealer to minister.
Now, he’s gone Hollywood.
Film studio Lionsgate is making a major motion picture, “Machine Gun Preacher,” of Childers’ life story as related in his 2009 book, “Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan.” The film will star the latest “it guy,” Gerard Butler.
The director is no slouch, either. Marc Forster directed “Monster’s Ball,” which won Halle Berry a best actress Oscar, and the 2008 James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”
Filming is to begin July 5 in Detroit and South Africa.
Lionsgate said the film will be released in fall 2011.
“ ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ combines a fascinating, action-packed story and unique characters with great talent on both sides of the camera,” Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate president of motion picture production, said in a release.
“Gerard Butler is the ideal actor to capture the strength, complexity and charisma of this film’s real-life hero, Sam Childers.”
Childers renounced his biker tough-guy ways to embark on a spiritual path, fighting and raising money for innocent children and villagers caught up in war-torn Sudan. He is pastor of the Shekinah Fellowship church near Reels Corners.
Rev. Childers was out of state Tuesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a 2009 interview with The Tribune-Democrat, he said, “I have four soldiers that work for me. I travel into conflict areas to find children abandoned in the fighting. We collect those children.”
The former heroin addict founded Angels of East Africa and built an orphanage in the midst of the conflict area.
Butler’s co-stars will include Michelle Monaghan as his wife, Lynn Childers, and Michael Shannon as his best friend, Donnie. Butler is known for his roles in “300” and “Law Abiding Citizen.”
Co-producer Robbie Brenner said, “When I heard about Sam Childers, I thought, ‘Here is a man who is making a difference, defying the odds and not just talking about what he believes but actually doing it.’
“Seldom do you find a story that is gripping and relatable but also is about something bigger. Here was a movie that begged to be made.”
A peek into the movie can be seen by the eclectic mix of extras that moviemakers are seeking for Detroit filming.
According to Michigan Casting Services, “Specific looks include: Bikers, biker chicks, churchgoers, junkies/drug dealers, prostitutes, construction workers, farmers, teenagers and children.
“There is also a need for denture wearers willing to be filmed without teeth and people in motorized carts.”