Though Angelina Jolie doesn’t identify with any specific religion, the 39-year-old actress reportedly dropped to her knees to “pray for a miracle” on the set of her latest film, Unbroken.
The film is about Louis Zamperini, a devout Christian who died of pneumonia on July 2 at age 97, who was an Olympic distance runner and prisoner of war survivor.
Throughout his service in the United States Army during the Second World War, Zamperini found himself in a number of horrendous situations.
In April, 1943, the war veteran was on a search and rescue mission for an American aircraft that was damaged in a bombing mission against the Japanese-occupied island of Nauru.
While on mission, mechanical difficulties caused the B-24 aircraft that American troops were occupying to crash about 850 miles south of Oahu.
Zamperini was one of three survivors of that fatal crash.
Following the accident, the three men stayed afloat on a raft for 47 days in the middle of the Pacific, with little food and water.
They were eventually captured by the Japanese navy after reaching the Marshall Islands.
Zamperini and his fellow soldiers were held in captivity and severely mistreated until the end of the war in August, 1945.
In 1949, Zamperini attended a crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham in Los Angeles. This led to a life of faith, which helped him overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Zamperini was the subject of the best-selling novel Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, which is the inspiration behind Jolie’s directorial effort.
Jolie and born-again Christian Zamperini formed an incredible bond during the creative process of Unbroken.
According to Cynthia Garris, who is Zamperini’s daughter, Jolie had an experience that ultimately propelled her closer to faith.
The crew was reportedly filming in South Whales, Australia when complications arose on set during the final scene.
Jolie, desperate for a miracle, did the unimaginable, according to Garris.
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.
[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.
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 went on to explain how that moment will live as a testament to her father’s relationship to God, and how this film has the capability to impact even those who don’t affiliate with religion.
She was moved by my father’s faith to try that 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 her way to a life that would encompass the almighty.
Jolie has spoken about the decision to shoot the film “universal” as non secular, leaving out Zamperini’s Christian faith.
She said the decision was at the behest of the veteran, who wanted his film to appeal to broader audiences.
“He said he wanted the message to reach everyone. He said to make faith and forgiveness universal… he said this is about reaching everyone and this should speak to everyone… if you were looking for symbolism and miracles in the film, you will see them,” said Jolie.
Unbroken hits theaters on Christmas day.