Back in 2019, Vanity Fair published a wild investigative article titled “The Church of Living Dangerously” tracking the rise and fall of John Lee Bishop, the popular Oregon pastor-turned-drug smuggler for the Mexican cartel. Today, New Regency has revealed it’s acquired film rights to David Kushner’s viral story, with Christian Bale attached to star as the infamous preacher.
The film adaption of “The Church of the Living Dangerously” does not yet have a director on board. However, Deadline reports that Oscar-winning writer Charles Randolph (The Big Short, Bombshell) will pen the script. Bale, New Regency, Ellen Goldsmith Vein, and Eric Robinson of The Gotham Group will all serve as producers.
“The Church of Living Dangerously” is a whirlwind story that recounts Bishop’s rough childhood, his status as the popular pastor of The Living Hope Church, his penchant for simulating Noah’s Ark with real exotic animals, and his affair with a church employee while married. From there, it delves into his troubled relationship with his son, David, who developed a meth and heroin habit, and Bishop’s bizarre choice to take drugs alongside him to understand their power. Of course, that decision ultimately led to a darker, steep spiral into the world of drug trafficking.
The original article introduces Bishop with a simple description: “He looked like Sammy Hagar, preached like Billy Graham, and brought a 350-pound tiger to church. Then he shot heroin with his son and was busted at the border for running drugs for a Mexican cartel.” Bale’s top-tier acting skills are legendary at this point, and considering just how many absurd and over-the-top antics Bishop got up to, chances are Bale will have plenty of fodder to give an Oscar-worthy performance for this movie.
It should be interesting to see just how unfiltered this film adaption is. Near the end of Deadline’s report, they note that the deal also includes “the life rights to Bishop and his son, David, who helped pull his father out of his nosedive.” That’s a lot of information to sign away. Then again, Bishop was convicted and sentence to five years behind bars, so perhaps this is his way of setting up a post-prison comeback.
Bale recently wrapped up his work on a new David O Russell-directed film alongside Margot Robbie and Michael B. Jordan. He’s also reportedly playing the vengeful alien Gorr the God Killer in Thor: Love and Thunder and may — or may not, as details are still under wraps — contribute in some way to the new TV series adaptation of American Psycho that’s “in development” at Lionsgate.