Christian Bale has had plenty of success playing real people in what would appear to be unreal situations, and he’s part of a new film that offers just such an opportunity. Bale is attached to star in and produce The Church Of Living Dangerously.

New Regency has leapt at the film rights to to David Kushner’s eponymous Vanity Fair article (you can read it here), which explores the story of John Lee Bishop. After surviving a hardscrabble childhood, Bishop rose to become pastor at The Living Hope Church, which at one point was so big that it filled a 8500 square foot former supermarket in Portland, Oregon.

Bishop drew crowds for his showman style of sermons, bringing exotic animals to the pulpit – and was almost mauled by a Bengal tiger. Despite his church’s forgiving attitude to lost souls, the congregation as less than magnanimous when he was caught in an affair with a church employee and his addictions to painkillers and booze were unearthed. Bishop’s son, David, developed a meth and heroin habit, and the preacher found a perplexing method of intervention. Determined not to fail his son, Bishop insisted on taking the drugs with the youth, to understand their power over him. That led to Bishop’s smuggling drugs for a Mexican cartel. Caught at the Mexican border after 20 runs, Bishop was convicted and sentence to five years behind bars. Ultimately, it was David who pulled him out of his tailspin.

This sounds like exactly the sort of role Bale can dive into, and he’s reuniting with a previous collaborator – writer Charles Randolph, who shared an Oscar with Adam McKay for the Bale-featuring The Big Short, and was also behind the script for Fox News drama Bombshell.

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