Gerard Butler: Machine Gun Preacher has heart

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PHOENIX – Scottish actor Gerard Butler, who is known for “300,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” has a new movie out and it’s a story he’s passionate about. It’s called “Machine Gun Preacher” and is about Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker from Pennsylvania who, on a mission from God, built an orphanage for the children of Southern Sudan.

Childers was a champion for children forced to become soldiers. Now the largest orphanage in Southern Sudan, the facility has cared for more than 1,000 children. It is currently home to more than 200.

“It’s just a remarkable story, an incredible and colorful adventure,” Butler said when he checked in live via satellite to chat with Tara Hitchcock.

“I thought it was important to bring this situation [in Southern Sudan] to light,” he continued. “Any story like that, it’s very inspiring. … You come out and you want to do something. You feel very moved. It has a huge impact on you.”

Butler said everyone he knows who has seen the movies has had the same reaction. With the movie’s tagline, “Hope is the greatest weapon of all,” it’s no wonder.

Butler describes Childers, whom he portrays in “Machine Gun Preacher,” as “amazing.”

While not into the Hollywood glitz and glamor, Childers knows it serves a purpose for his cause, Butler said.

“He’s always trying to spread some good,” Butler said. “He’s a good man.”

While the topic a serious one, there’s also some humor in the movie.

“When you describe this movie, it sounds very heavy, but there are a lot of funny moments in it, as well,” Butler said. “He’s a funny guy. To have lived the life that he has, you have to have a sense of humor about things. He has a great, wicked sense of humor.”

"Machine Gun Preacher" is based on Childers' biography, "Another Man's War." Proceeds from the book go to Angels of East Africa, the non-profit aid organization Childers founded in 1998, and the Children's Village.

Directed by Marc Forster, “Machine Gun Preacher” also stars Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker and Michael Shannon. The movie is rated R. It opens Nov. 18.