Interview with Michelle Monaghan of “Machine Gun Preacher”
Dallas , Texas , September 26, 2011
PO : What interested you in this role?
MM: It’s true, it’s significant, it’s complex, compelling, and provocative, but also it’s a woman kind of right up my alley.
PO : How did you prepare for it?
MM: I spent a lot of time with Lynn, and it so happened that weekend he happened to be home, also, so I got to bear witness to their, um, complicated relationship. (laughs) Really, Lynn answered every question I posed to her, and I asked some pretty tough questions. She’s someone who’s endured a lot, and I consider her to be the quiet giant of that family. She’s endured a lot, all for the sake of those children, and I am humbled by that incredible selflessness. She’s very grounded, she doesn’t get angry or upset, she’s confident as a result of her faith. That’s not like me at all. I’m very emotional. So it was probably the first time as an actor that I ignored my instincts. My instincts wanted to unleash, to be angry and upset, because that’s what I would have done, even what most women would do in that situation (when he took the money from the family safe for his orphanage in Africa ). But she’s a real person that I respect very much, and I have a responsibility to her. So my mantra was, “quiet giant, quiet giant.” But she also proves that you can have God in your life and still be kind of sassy! (laughs) Really, though, it’s all about those children, and not just the ones in Africa , but right here in our country, in our cities, that are so needy, and if people could just do a little today, that would be more than what we did yesterday.
PO : There are some in the religious community who would argue that taking up a gun to meet the violence is not the way. How do you feel about that?
MM: Well, you know, that’s one of the reasons I did this movie, because it is provocative. It’s essentially the Old Testament, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” What I can tell you is what the facts are. Whether you agree or disagree, there are thousands of children who are being saved as a result of what he’s done. And thousands more that are being fed because of him. When you look at the area in which this movie took place, there are no rules, really. I can’t say that his rules are right or wrong, but I can definitely tell you that there’s not a lot of positive things to say about the LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army, or the Sudanese rebels that are responsible for much of the genocide in the area). They’re not doing positive things in terms of children. And Sam is fighting the fight. This is why we want people to go and see this film, because it’s going to challenge your belief system. It’s going to make people talk, and debate, and that’s why I think it’s an important film. I also appreciate that he’s a flawed hero. He’s not perfect. You know, sometimes people think that those who are really great are perfect. He’s not. You can make a difference in this world regardless of whatever your sordid past may be. You can turn your life around and make a difference in somebody else’s life. Does that answer your question?
PO: Do you think that the United States should intervene politically?
MM: Well, last year the Obama administration signed a referendum to try to bring Joseph Koney (the leader of the LRA) to justice. He’s been indicted by the ICC. Also Bashir, the President. They’ve committed acts against humanity. Bashir is a mass murderer, a serial killer of the worst kind, and he’s not been brought to justice. That’s why I think it’s important for this movie to keep the spotlight on Sudan right now. I know there are other needy areas in the world, but where children are victims, it takes it to a whole other level.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas