WWII Hero and Born-Again Christian’s Faith Inspires Angelina Jolie to Drop to Her Knees and Pray

Barbara Boland | December 10, 2014
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Famed Hollywood beauty Angelina Jolie has never been religious, but the subject of her new movie Unbroken, Louis Zamperini, caused her to drop to her knees and pray for a miracle during filming. 

Louis Zamperini was an Olympic distance runner who survived a plane crash in World War II, drifted at sea for 47 days, lived through brutal torture at the hands of Japanese and lived to tell his incredible tale in a bestselling book by Lauren Hillenbrand, "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption." Jolie is director and producer of the movie based on the book.

The born-again Christian's faith inspired Jolie during a particularly difficult movie scene.

Jolie is "not a person of faith, and had never prayed before, but she found herself at the very last scene of the movie ... they needed sunlight to shoot this very important scene and there had been a storm that had been going for a while," Zamperini's daughter Cynthia Garris said at a New York press conference Friday.

From the Christian Post:

"[Angelina] said 'I don't know what I'm going to do so I'll do what Louie would do.' She got on her knees and she prayed for a miracle … everybody saw it," she recalled. "It stopped raining. The sun came out, a rainbow came out, she said, 'let's get this take' [and] they shot the take. When she said 'cut,' it started to rain again."

Garris explained that her father’s extraordinary faith can inspire even irreligious people "and that's what he wants for people to get from the movie. I'll tell you, when my father died we were all with him in the hospital. [Angelina] came about 45 minutes later and she was pointing above saying 'I know he's with us, I know he's there with God.'"

"I think maybe in God's plan for Angelina, she was supposed to find Louie and make this movie to find her way to a life that would encompass the Almighty."

Jolie describes herself being incredibly moved by Louie. "They say you should never meet your heroes, because they often disappoint you," said Jolie reported the Daily Mail. "But Louis really was one of the greatest people ever."

Typically Hollywood glamorizes or distorts the lives it portrays, and characters’ families are often dismayed with the end result. Not so with Unbroken. Zamperini’s children say they are “very happy with” the portrayal. Louie’s brother Luke gave it a resounding thumbs-up saying, “I absolutely love this film!”

The cast took their roles very seriously, keeping 800 calorie diets so they could accurately portray the emaciation of the tortured and starved prisoners-of-war, reports Townhall. “Jack O’Connell, who plays Zamperini, said his costar Domnhall Gleason (Phil) lost so much weight that he dropped a contact lens size.

 “He could be any of our grandfathers and I think we all felt a responsibility and that we did service to a story that is bigger than any of us,” said Finn Wittrock, one of the actors in the film.

“I want my children to know about men like Louie,” said Angelina Jolie. “When they feel bad about themselves and they think all is lost, they know they’ve got something inside of them. You don’t have to be a perfect person or a saint or a hero – Louie was very flawed, very human – but made great choices and again, was a great man.”