Christian Bale has signed on to star in a feature adaptation of writer David Kushner’s Vanity Fair article, The Church of the Living Dangerously, which follows the life of a drug-smuggling preacher. Deadline is reporting that the Academy Award-winning actor will play John Lee Bishop, the former pastor of the Portland, Oregon megachurch, The Living Hope Church.
New Regency has acquired the movie rights to Kushner’s article, which was published in 2019. The studio has hired Oscar-winning screenwriter, Charles Randolph, who previously worked with Bale on The Big Short, to pen the script for the upcoming film.
In addition to leading the cast, Bale will also produce the movie with New Regency, as well as Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson of The Gotham Group. Randolph and Kushner will also serve as executive producers on the film, alongside Margaret Riley.
Bishop overcame a difficult childhood to become the pastor of The Living Hope Church, which at one point, became so popular that it filled an 8,500 square foot former K-Mart superstore in Portland. While working at the church, he was a natural showman who would bring exotic animals to the pulpit during his sermons.
Even though Bishop became wealthy from the unique antics he used during his sermons, which he catered to lost souls with the theory that anyone could be forgiven, he ultimately couldn’t handle his power and influence well. As a result, his parishioners didn’t forgive him when he was eventually caught having an affair with a church employee while he was married, and it was also revealed that he struggled with painkiller and alcohol addictions.
When Bishop also found out that his son, David, had developed a meth and heroin habit, the preacher insisted on taking the drugs with his child, in order to understand their power over him. That decision led Bishop to begin smuggling drugs for a Mexican cartel. After completing 20 runs, the preacher was eventually caught at the Mexican border and convicted and sentence to five years in prison.
In addition to the Vanity Fair article, New Regency’s movie deal also includes the life rights to both Bishop and David. The latter eventually helped save his father’s life.