'Unbroken: Path to Redemption': Will Graham to make screen debut as grandfather Billy in Zamperini sequel
Evangelist Will Graham is to play his grandfather Billy in film billed as a sequel to the Louie Zamperini bio-pic Unbroken.
Unbroken: Path to Redemption will focus on the faith of the Olympian and war hero who survived a Japanese prisoner camp.
The original film directed by Angelina Jolie referred to Zamperini's conversion, but went into no details about how his faith affected his life.
The new film is directed at the faith market. In a news release last week, executive producer Bill Reeves said: 'Audiences have long wanted to see the "second part" of Louie Zamperini's story brought to life.
'How he found redemption, overcame deep personal struggles and ultimately forgave his captors makes for an inspiring, beautiful film.'
Will Graham, who works with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, will be making his film debut. He said: 'Like my father and grandfather before me, I'm blessed to have been able to answer a call to evanglism,' said the younger Graham, whose father is evangelist Franklin Graham. 'But knowing how God used Billy Graham in Louie Zamperini's life, I couldn't pass the opportunity to portray him in this inspiring story.'
The film will be directed by Harold Cronk, who also directed God's Not Dead and God's Not Dead 2.
Laura Hillenbrand, whose book inspired both films, said: 'The life of American Olympian, castaway and POW Louie Zamperini is a story so extraordinary it staggers the imagination. It is a life rich in lessons for all of us – lessons in resilience and ingenuity, grace and humanity, forgiveness and the power of faith. I am so pleased to see his story brought back to the screen.'
Zamperini, who died in 2014 aged 97, told the Charlotte Observer in 2011 that he heard Billy Graham preach in 1949 when he was struggling with alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress. He said: 'Billy Graham's message hit me between the eyes. Instead of leaving, I went back to the prayer room. And man, when I made a confession of my faith in Christ, I knew my whole life had changed. ... That was the first night in three years that I didn't have a nightmare. I haven't had one since.'