Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank will be coming to Winnipeg to shoot the drama Ordinary Angels from late March to early May.
Set in Kentucky in 1994, the film is based on a true story. Swank will play Sharon Stevens, a struggling hairdresser who turns her life around when she meets a widower whose five-year-old daughter needs a liver transplant. Fully committing to this family, Sharon rallies the town and raises money to help save the girl’s life.
The widower will be played by Alan Ritchson, currently seen as the title character in Prime Video’s hit series Reacher, based on Lee Child’s international bestselling novels. (After its debut, that series became one of the streaming service’s top five most-watched series ever in the United States.)
The story of Ordinary Angels centres around a pivotal plot point in which a community must find a way to dig out a path for a helicopter during a snowstorm. While the storm will likely be created with special effects, there is always a chance the city might provide the real thing, even in April.
Swank has always been notable for her commitment to the work. She won her first Oscar for playing transgender man Brandon Teena in Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 drama Boys Don’t Cry. She won her second Oscar in the same category for her performance as a determined boxer in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Both roles required dedication well beyond the usual actor prep. Swank lived as a man for a month before performing in Boys Don’t Cry, and reportedly gained 19 pounds of muscle in a gruelling training regimen prior to Million Dollar Baby.
The film’s director, Jon Gunn, has a few Christian films to his credit, including The Case for Christ (2017) and Do You Believe? (2015). But while the film’s cast of characters includes a pastor, the film will not necessarily have the same faith-based overtones as past locally shot productions such as Heaven Is for Real (2014) and Breakthrough (2019), both of which invoked miracles in their stories.
The story is being told through a lens of inspiration. Producer Kevin Downes of Kingdom Story Company says, “Kingdom Story Company endeavors to bring inspiring true stories to life on screen. Ordinary Angels spotlights one family’s seemingly insurmountable struggles and the everyday people who helped them in remarkable ways.”
In a press release, Gunn says, “I’m thrilled to be working with Hilary and Alan. They are both actors with incredible range, who find humanity and vulnerability in every character they play. They are perfectly matched to bring this complex and inspirational true story to life.”
The film was written by Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig, and Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn. The Manitoba producer is Rhonda Baker of RGB Productions. The film will be distributed by Lionsgate.