Gerard Butler in first-look “Machine Gun Preacher” photo

By Sean O’Connell Marc Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher” was a surprise inclusion on the list of films screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

While Forster has directed hit indie and festival-worthy films in the past (“The Kite Runner,” “Finding Neverland,” “Monster’s Ball”), the action-thriller about a converted drug-dealer didn’t initially sound like TIFF material. But programmers must know something that we don’t, so we’re now heading into “Preacher” with an open mind and increased anticipation.

Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Madeline Carroll and Michael Shannon star in Forster’s film, which tells the true story of Sam Childers (Butler), a one-time drug-dealing criminal who finds a new calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children.

Childers founded the Angels of East Africa rescue organization, which helped repair homes destroyed by civil war.

And now Relativity Media has our first look at the actor in his new role. We have it below:

We’ve been waiting for Butler to get back to meatier roles in pictures like “300” or “Rock’N’Rolla” … and staying as far away from Jennifer Aniston and Hilary Swank rom-coms, where he rarely fits. We’ll do our best to cover “Preacher” in Toronto, though it will be in theaters on Sept. 23 for all to see.

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One Comment

  • July 27, 2011 | Permalink |

    Well, I would have to say the Hilary Swank movie is not any kind of rom-com. Women love it around the world (despite male critics, who never get it), and it is a weeper. There are a few moments in the other two with Heigl and Anniston for women who like to see him up close and personal…but true, although he has a great sense of humor, he is better in amusing films like Rocknrolla. Maybe Playing the Field (directed by Gabrielle Mucino, with Biel, Zeta-Jones, Quaid) will be better. Mavericks, in which he plays a mentor to a young surfer (the reason he has been surfing so much in Malibu and Hawaii), is going to be filming shortly.

    His fans are waiting for Coriolanus and MGP, both to be at TIFF.

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