Machine Gun Preacher: Man on a Mission
- Friday, September 30, 2011
Childers admits that his story as portrayed in Machine Gun Preacher is not for everyone, as the grittiness of his life before accepting Christ and the violence surrounding his overseas rescue work has earned this on-screen portrayal a solid R-rating. Still, it is a part of who he was—and is—and what he has also written about earlier in his 2009 biography, Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan.
I talked with Childers recently, just days before Machine Gun Preacher was set to open wide in theaters. No question went unanswered as he addressed his turbulent life before Christ, the controversy that has periodically surrounded his ministry work in Africa and his hope that some churches will actually buy tickets and support a film based on his true story.
Machine Gun Preacher covers thirty years of your life in two hours. In your work with the film’s screenwriter, how hard was it to do that and choose what to include?
You’ve got to remember the screenwriter, what he did was he did his research with me. I didn’t tell him what to put in and what he couldn’t put in. He’s the one that researched everything, and then he pulled out what he thought would be the best for the screenplay. So I was pleased that he left the faith part in, as far as how I believe, because that’s all part of my life. But when it comes down to actually picking and choosing, I didn’t have the choice to do that. He just made sure he’d done his research. He did a good job on the research. He not only moved in with me for about a year, he literally went to Africa. [Director] Marc Forster actually went to Africa, too, so they did a very good job on the research. So they just didn’t hear it from my mouth. They heard it from friends, they heard it from children who were rescued, they heard it from soldiers. So they ended up doing all of the research that was needed for the movie.
When you see the finished product, is there anything that did not make it into the movie that you wish had?
You know, I think that’s a bad question to ask me because you know you’ve got thirty-plus years. I believe they’ve done a good job. Naturally, it’s my life so anybody in my situation is going to say, “Oh yeah, I wish they would put in this . . . there’s this I wish they would have put in.” But you know for a thirty-some-year-plus movie that they made into two hours, I’m pleased with it. Now if I started talking here, which I’m not going to tell you everything I wish they would’ve put in, I could go for hours. So yes, I’m not going to go into that. The thing that means the biggest thing is do I support it? And yes, I do.
Is there anything in the film that is “pure Hollywood”?
Yeah, I mean, there is definitely a couple of things. Like it had me saying the "n word” a few times, and I was never a person to use that. My dad, his mom died when he was five years old. My dad was raised by a black lady. We were brought up never to be prejudiced at all. If I ever said that word and my dad was alive, he’d knock my teeth out. So I never said those words. It showed me kind of having a bad day, going back to drinking and [that’s] totally not true. I mean, I might be a messed-up preacher, but I never went back to drugs and alcohol in twenty-three years. So just little things like that was Hollywood. The action scenes were amped up, and that’s Hollywood.
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