This inspirational true story, ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ is about Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance as Childers in Golden Globe-nominated director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s Ball,Finding Neverland) moving story of violence and redemption. Alongside Gerard Butler, the cast includes Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Michael Shannon, Madeline Carroll and Souleymane Sy Savane. ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ has been scheduled for release September 23rd in the US, and November 18th in the UK. Check out what Gerard Butler had to say about the film below.

There’s so much packed into this gripping story.

Gerard Butler: I’ve never been in a movie, or even I think witnessed a movie that has so much packed into it. In terms of emotion and just life experiences. It takes place in two continents, it takes place in two completely different cultures. We were almost shooting two different movies. There’s that whole duality of Sam Childers as well – as well as Sam in Africa and Sam in America, there’s the younger Sam, the out of control Sam who had no God but himself, and his pain and his pleasure. Then there’s the Sam who railed everything in, and found this higher purpose, first in God and then in this mission. But then now knowing Sam, you realise that is only one bit of him. When I first read the script I was like, ‘Are you kidding? This is so much, this is too much, this couldn’t have all happened?’ Then you speak to him and you realise this and much much more.

How was it getting to know Sam Childers?

Gerard Butler: I spent quite a lot of time with Sam, we went to visit with him and stayed with him in Pennsylvania . We went around with him, watched him preach in his church. I probably have about forty hours of conversation, where I would just always have Sam on in the background – as much to listen to how he talked, how he expressed himself, and also to hear his stories, he’s such an incredible guy. It was big boots to fill, it was a joy to do but it was hard work.

The debut screening at TIFF went great.

Gerard Butler: I think that was one of those career defining moments for me. The screening went fantastic, I’m very proud of the movie, I think it’s a very powerful, remarkable piece of work. Last year was kind of a time for me that I stopped and said, ’Ok, really, what do I want to do right now? And I took on a couple of challenges, challenge myself, with more edgy and grittier roles, with this and also with ‘Coriolanus.’ I read that script, with Ralph Fiennes directing and playing Coriolanus, I thought, ‘This is so delicious, it’s terrifying, it’s exciting, I want to go and do that.’ Then with ‘Machine Gun Preacher,’ it rips your heart out, the screening went down a storm. It’s a good place to be.

How did director Marc Forster help bring this character alive?

Gerard Butler: He’s a phenomenal director, very efficient, and he didn’t ever have to prove that to me, because he knew I knew it. So he doesn’t have to be scared of my ideas, he knows my ideas are never about me, they’re about the movie. I cared about making this a great movie, because I don’t care about me looking good in a scene, if the scene is going to suffer what’s the point in that? I read the story and went, ’What a great story! What a great role.’ I don’t think anyone is as adept as Marc to jump into any genre and just give everything a different feel, he’s great.