EXCLUSIVE: Jim Gaffigan and Joel Courtney have been tapped to lead the faith-based feature Jesus Revolution for Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, producer of the Jeremy Camp biopic, I Still Believe. Written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn, and directed by Gunn, film is inspired by the true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origins within a community of teenaged hippies in Southern California.
Courtney will play Greg Laurie, a counterculture teen in the late 1960s seeking meaning and purpose, who eventually joined the Jesus Revolution in Southern California and went on to start Harvest Christian Fellowship, one of the largest congregations in America. Gaffigan is Chuck Smith, the real-life pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, who served as a mentor to Greg Laurie. Chuck famously opened his church to a generation of hippies and seekers, helping to launch the last great spiritual revival in America.
“This is a distinctly American story of rebirth,” said Gaffigan. “The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time when spirituality was on the wane, leaving a lot of people searching for answers in other places. I’m excited to play a pastor who helped make a home for the people most desperate for those answers and built a congregation – a coming together of people – to make something greater than themselves.”
“When I read the script, I was very drawn to the idea of portraying a man who is completely lost within himself and seeks to find a path and purpose during a time of national turmoil,” said Courtney.
Kevin Downes and the Andrew and Jon Erwin (a.k.a the Erwin Brothers), who collaborated with Gunn on I Still Believe, are producing the pic. Jerilyn Esquibel will serve as co-producer for Kingdom Story.
“I love this era,” said Gunn. “The defiant search for truth, the fight against oppression, the hope for a better future in the midst of social turmoil. In that way, it’s not unlike our world today. And I couldn’t be more excited to work with Jim and Joel to tell this honest, captivating story that will serve as a powerful reminder that radical love really can change the world.”
“This is a fascinating true story about how young people gravitated towards a spiritual movement that erupted during a time that our country was being torn apart and couldn’t be more divided,” added the Erwin Brothers. “Its themes are just as timely and topical today as they were in the late ’60s.”
Gaffigan, a multiple-Grammy nominee, Daytime Emmy winner, and New York Times best-selling author, was recently seen opposite Ethan Hawke in the Sundance film, Tesla, as well as Amazon’s Troop Zero, American Dreamer, and Super Troopers 2. His online shows, Dinner With the Gaffigans and Let’s Get Cookin’, are currently streaming on YouTube.
Courtney, whose break came as the star of J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, currently stars in Netflix’s The Kissing Booth films. Other credits include Assimilate, F*&% the Prom, The River Thief, and Dead Eleanor.
Gaffigan is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners, UTA and Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham, while Courtney is with The Gersh Agency, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light.