Will Graham, grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, said that playing his famous grandfather in the forthcoming film "Unbroken: Path to Redemption" reminded him of the urgency — and timelessness — of the Gospel.
"One of the things I learned from my granddaddy while I was doing this movie is the sense of urgency with the Gospel," Will Graham told The Gospel Herald at the red carpet premiere of the film in Dallas, Texas. "God's Word transforms lives. My grandaddy would always say, 'The Bible says...' and that's what he was famous for. I loved learning about my grandad's sermons — he preached a lot different in 1949 than he did in 1999. But, it was still that same commitment to the Word of God."
"He never slowed down," he added. "He was like a machine gun preacher. He would never take a breath."
"Unbroken: Path to Redemption" chronicles the real-life story of U.S. Olympic athlete and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini, who died in 2014. The film, based on Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling book, begins where the 2014 movie left off.
After living as a prisoner of war in a Japanese prison camp for more than two years, Zamperini returned home suffering from severe PTSD. Traumatized by his past, he turned to alcohol for comfort and blamed God for his horrific experience. It wasn't long before his anger and thirst for revenge put him and his newlywed wife Cynthia on the brink of divorce.
"Cynthia was hurting for her husband," said Will Graham. "She wanted to help her husband. But She didn't know what to do because Lou didn't want to be helped. At first, she wanted to divorce him, she just wanted to run away from it. And that would've been easy; just cut ties and be gone."
However, just when all seemed to be lost, Cynthia attended Billy Graham's 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, where she embraced Christianity. Because of her newfound faith, Cynthia re-committed to her marriage and her husband.
Eventually, Cynthia convinced her husband to attend a 1949 tent revival in Los Angeles, where the Rev. Billy Graham was preaching. On the second night of the event, Zamperini became a Christian. From that point forward, his entire life was transformed. And because of his newfound faith, he was able to forgive his captors — and experience the peace and hope he so desperately needed.
"Cynthia had a hope that was contagious," said Will Graham. "It would finally rub off onto her husband, Louis. It took awhile...but she was able to get him to come to the crusade. He hated everything about it. But the night that he tried to get out, he found himself walking to the front. It was all because of a woman who had not given up on her husband. Marriage is tough, but God can work out the problems in any marriage."
"Unbroken," Will Graham said, is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and hope — and evidence that can God heal even the most broken relationships.
"My grandaddy would be excited to know that they're telling the story about Louis Zamperini and how God can change a marriage," he said. "They weren't the only ones that came to know Christ in 1949, but they're the epitome of it. That's for sure."
For more information about "Unbroken: Path to Redemption," click here.