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Last year, Robert Redford took on an incredibly demanding solo-role in the shipwreck drama All is Lost. Now, as follow-up to his gritty performance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and his upcoming A Walk In the Woods, Redford is considering joining a biopic that would have him playing charismatic preacher Oral Roberts.
Robert Redford has entered into negotiations to play the late controversial televangelist in the Jonathan Demme-directed Come Sunday. But should he sign on, he won't be the film's star. That honor and responsibility could well go to Jeffrey Wright, who is in talks to portray the lesser known but even more controversial Carlton Pearson.
Before we get into the plot details, how about some history for those unfamiliar with Roberts and Pearson?
As an early pioneer of televangelism, Oral Roberts is often credited as bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream. He not only reached countless Christians through his preaching, but also founded the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University, both which worked toward expanding the reach of this faith. As a young man, Carlton Pearson attended Oral Roberts University, where he became a protégé to Roberts himself.
Pearson was later ordained, and saw after his own congregation the Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center - which was among the largest churches in Tulsa, Oklahoma, bringing in upwards of 5,000 attendees each service. Pearson was a shining example to Evangelicals for years. He was ordained as a bishop, and was invited to the White House by George W. Bush. But things changed radically for Pearson when he had an epiphany: one need not be Christian to be saved.
He began to preach universal reconciliation to his following, and his popularity and numbers declined. He went on to claim there was no hell, and was denounced by his former colleagues as a heretic. From there, he suffered great losses, and had to rebuild his church and faith. Come Sunday will tell Pearson's incredible and atypical true story of faith lost and found.
You can actually learn more about Carlton Pearson and how he went from Evangelical All-Star to heretic with a fascinating episode of This American Life, fittingly called "Heretics." Listen below:
It's no coincidence that Come Sunday was originally called Heretics, as This American Life host/executive producer Ira Glass and producer Alissa Shipp first attempted to make this movie back in 2010. At that time, Marc Forster was being lined up to helm; he is now on board as an executive producer, working alongside Glass and Shipp.
Come Sunday is expected to shoot in the spring of 2015, so it could be some time before Robert Redford and Jeffrey Wright commit to their faith in this project.