The movie Unbroken, coming out on Christmas Day, is the almost inconceivable true story of Louis Zamperini. Born in Torrance, California, he made a name for himself as a rebel and a rule-breaker when he was young. As a teenager, he was an Olympic long-distance runner. After his bombardier plane crashed during World War II, Zamperini was lost at sea for 47 days, before being captured by the Japanese and tortured in a P.O.W. camp for the remainder of the war.
Zamperini published two versions of his memoirs, but his notoriety had started to fade when a short documentary ran during TV coverage of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Then author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit) wrote the bestseller Unbroken about Zamperini and his story once again fascinated the nation.
Angelina Jolie directed the film version of Unbroken. Zamperini, himself, died only a few months ago at age 97, but not before he got to watch Jolie’s movie. KUSC contributing reporter Tim Greiving sat down with Zamperini’s children, Luke Zamperini and Cynthia Garris, to talk about this film’s long road to the movie house, how Jolie ensured it would be accurate down to the footwear on the actors, and what it’s like to hear bedtime stories from an honest-to-goodness hero.