EXCLUSIVE: Graham Greene, most recently on the A&E (and now Netflix) crime drama Longmire, has joined Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer in Lionsgate’s faith-based feature film The Shack. The pic is based on the bestselling Christian novel by William Paul Young; the book was initially self-published in 2007 and has sold more than 10 million copies. Initially, Forest Whitaker was circling to adapt, star and direct, but he left to do The Story Of Your Life. Stuart Hazeldine is directing now.
Others cast in the film include Radha Mitchell (Red Widow, London Is Falling) who plays fellow Aussie Worthington’s devoutly religious wife, Nan. Jesus will be played by Israeli actor Aviv Alush who actually looks a lot like the traditional artistic renditions of Jesus of Nazareth.
This is one of several films that studios have initiated following last year’s incredible run at the box office of faith-based films, such as Son Of God and God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is For Real (also based on a bestseller). Another faith-based film is bowing this weekend, Beyond The Mask, which has done quite well four-walling before being picked up by God’s Not Dead distributor Freestyle Releasing.
The latest from Lionsgate starts production with two Oscar acting notables — Greene was nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar for Dances With Wolves and Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Help. So this film will benefit from serious acting chops. Greene will play Male Papa (God), an older man who is calm and serene, the personification of God as male. Spencer plays the female representation.
The Shack follows Mack (Worthington), a man who receives a mysterious note from ‘Papa’ which is his wife’s name for God. He is asked to come meet at a shack in the wilderness after he suffers the presumed kidnapping of his child. He heads out to the shack and what he finds inside is not only evidence of a crime but also learns about himself.
The project, from a screenplay by John Fusco, is being produced by Gil Netter and Brad Cummings and executive produced by Mike Drake.
Greene will next be seen in the feature film Te Ata. He is repped by Greene & Associates. Mitchell is repped by ICM Partners. Alush is repped by the ADD Agency.