Unbroken: Did Angelina Jolie Grant Louis Zamperini His Wish?

zamp jolie

In Louis Zamperini’s updated autobiography of 2003, he expressed a deep desire that his conversion experience be a significant part of any movie made about his life.  The Lord had saved him out a life of post-war recurring nightmares and hateful resentment through a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1949.

On page 272 and 273 of his updated autobiography, Zamperini wrote:

After the (first) publication of my book (autobiography, Devil at My Heels) I got a call from Universal Pictures, telling me that Tony Curtis wanted to play me and had asked them to buy the book.  I was about to sell my house and I needed some cash to purchase a new one in the hills, so I agreed.  Universal drew up a contract, but when I read it I said it wasn’t good enough.

“That’s a standard Hollywood contract,” they said.  “It’s all we can give you.”

I knew they could give me whatever I wanted, and they probably thought I wanted more money.  I didn’t.  “I need money to buy a new house,” I explained, “But that’s not the problem.  Money is not as important as a guarantee not to minimize my conversion or its influence on my life.  I have to have some protection for my faith.”  

I told him that they’d made a picture called Battle Hymn in which Rock Hudson played Colonel Dean Hess.  A World War II flying ace, the real Hess came home and joined the ministry; then they drafted him back into the Korean War and nobody knew he was a minister.  I knew Hess, and he had told me, “If they ever make a movie of your life, get a separate contract to protect your faith.  I have to live with my movie for the rest of my life, and believe me, it’s not pleasant.  Don’t let them do it to you.”

I didn’t want much, just a moment to show Christ as in Isaiah 9:6, as both God and Savior.  The producer wrote a couple drafts of the contract, but Cynthia and I turned them both down until he came up with something we liked.  ThenI made the deal and a script was commissioned.  Tony Curtis went to Europe to make Spartacus, then to South America for another film.  When he got back the script was ready, but I didn’t like it and neither did universal, so they put it on the back burner.

You can hear a 56 minute lecture on The Life of Louis Zamperini based on Devil at My Heels, here:


About savedbygrace1976

Mark Chanski (author of Manly Dominion; Womanly Dominion; and Encouragement: Adrenaline for the Soul) has labored as a full-time Pastor since 1986 in churches in Ohio and Michigan. He has been Pastor of Harbor Church in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. He has also been elected as Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Network. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches Hermeneutics for the Reformed Baptist Seminary in Sacramento, CA. Mark is married to his wife Dianne, and has fathered their four sons and one daughter, whose ages stretch from 36 to 26 (born 1983 to 1994).
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