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Angelina Jolie Discovered Power of Prayer While Filming 'Unbroken'

( [email protected] ) Dec 09, 2014 02:13 PM EST

Angelina Jolie with Louis Zamperini, the Subject of Unbroken
Zamperini, 79, pictured with actress Angelina Jolie while filming ''Unbroken''

Angelina Jolie, director of the highly anticipated new movie "Unbroken," faced a challenge during filming that caused her to drop to her knees and pray for a miracle.

The actress was in need of sunlight to wrap the final scene in her upcoming movie about Olympic runner and U.S. Army Air Corps member Louis Zamperini, a devout Christian and American hero who was taken hostage in Japan during WWII.

"She was 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 press conference in New York on Friday according to the AP.

"[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."

Related: Could Angelina Jolie Become Christian through Neighbor Louis Zamperini?

The incredible moment, according to Garris, spoke volumes about her now-deceased father's faith and the ability of his compelling story to impact people of all ages and faiths.

"She was moved by my father's faith to try that and that's what he wants for people to get from the movie," Garris explained. "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."

Zamperini, who became close friends with Jolie while filming "Unbroken," has an incredible story of faith and perseverance. He was forced to live across the Pacific in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash and endured unspeakable torture at the hands of the Japanese navy after being sent to a P.O.W. camp.

After attending crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham in 1949, Zamperini became a devout Christian, and, through his faith, he was able to forgive his captors and later overcome his struggles, including PTSD.

Related: Angelina Jolie Defends Decision to Avoid 'Christian' Label in WWII Film 'Unbroken'  

Although Zamperini, 97, passed away earlier this year in July, Jolie had the chance to show a rough cut of the film to him right before he died in hospital, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports.

"I wanted to learn from Louis and be around this great man, but I wanted to put something out in the world that reminded us all of the strength of the human spirit and brotherhood and faith and all of the things that will, in the end, get us through these dark times," Jolie said in an Associated Press article.

"It was an extremely moving experience to watch someone watching their own life... someone so physically strong... and they are at the stage where their body is giving up," Jolie told the December issue of Vanity Fair about his death.

"And yet we laughed together, and talked about his mom. And being a man of such faith, he talked about all the people he believed he would be seeing on the other side. And that it would bring him peace. After a life of fighting, he could rest."

"Unbroken" will hit theaters Christmas Day of this year, Dec. 25. You can see the trailer to the film here.