Alum breaks into the big screen


Photo courtesy Stephen Douglas

Stephen Douglas, class of ’06, poses with members of the cast of “Unbroken.” Douglas (pictured 2nd from the left) plays the role of Clarence Douglas. “Unbroken” premieres on Christmas Day.

“As soon as I got the phone call, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. A few weeks later, I was on a 15 hour flight to Australia,” Stephen Douglas, class of ’06, said.

Douglas was cast in the upcoming movie “Unbroken,” which premieres on Christmas Day. The film “Unbroken” is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II. The film is directed by Angelina Jolie.

According to Douglas, Jolie was pushed to cast big-name actors, but instead she wanted to bring in a lot of no-names and get real, raw people.

Douglas had never been featured in a film before, but when he received the phone call confirming that he had landed the role of his grandfather, Clarence Douglas, he knew it was going to be special. “I think Jolie chose me because of the fact I am related to the character and it made things that much more personal,” Douglas said.

“My grandfather flew in the B-24 bomber plane alongside Louis Zamperini. It was surreal being able to act out exactly what my grandfather experienced so many years ago,” Douglas said.

During his time at JC, Douglas was involved in the school plays and made strong relationships with directors Kimberly Brueggemann and Larry Hensley.

Douglas was also fascinated by work behind the camera and was very involved in his TV Production class taught by Robert Schick. He said Schick was the most influential person during his high school career and allowed him to be creative and independent. Schick even let Douglas take an independent TV Production class where he was able to “run free with the camera,” Douglas said.

Douglas received a full scholarship to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY because of his passion for film and production. After his time at Pratt, Douglas spent a lot of his time working with lighting and being on set.

Although Douglas’s role was not a  leading one in the movie, he was able to learn about his family history and “more about his grandfather than he ever thought possible.”

“It’s pretty crazy how I got the part. My dad helped me get my name out to the casting director, and when Angelina Jolie heard I was the grandson of Clarence Douglas, she was 100% set that I would play the part,” Douglas said.

According to Douglas, Jolie is the smartest, wittiest, and funniest person he has ever met. “She only works on things she cares about, and when she does care, she works as hard as humanly possible,” Douglas said.

Douglas talked about the unforgettable experience he had in Australia and the relationships he formed there. “The greatest memory for me was the camaraderie of it all,” Douglas said. “I was able to work with some of the most dedicated people and I think that work ethic is going to translate into the outcome of the film.”

Douglas strongly recommends “Unbroken” to everyone. “It’s truly an epic,” Douglas said. “It’s a true story with so much heart that you just can’t get away from it.”

Hanna LeBuhn is the Print Chief for The Patriot and