“The responsibility to get it right kind of falls heavy on your shoulders,” explains actor Mike Vogel, who played Brooks. “I couldn’t have done it if he himself [Brooks] hadn’t sort of opened up Pandora’s Box.”
A Philly native, Vogel came on the scene several years ago with a role in the 2003 reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These days his career is progressing nicely, bringing him roles in Cloverfield, as well as the awards-season darling Blue Valentine. But Vogel gained more than just experience working with Brooks.
“Brooks has also become a close friend and a brother,” Vogel says. “I hope I did him proud, and I hope that the message comes through in the story. Brooks is a remarkable guy. … He’s been able to turn the story on its head and really use the adversity to accomplish change.”
The idea of the movie first took shape when Brooks decided to explore his long-held passion for film and moved to L.A. After meeting writer and director Paul Brown in a screenwriting class, Brooks decided he wanted to try to write about his family’s story.
“I never thought I would write this story, but it was actually Paul that talked me into it,” Brooks explains. After describing the tale to Brown in class, Brown asked where the story came from and was floored to find it was a true story.
“I said, wait a minute, this is a real story?” Brown remembers. Though it was painful for Brooks, the men worked together to craft a screenplay based on the Douglass’ life.
Brooks even raised $2 million in order to finance filming. “All this energy was created around a story that had real emotional power,” he says.
For more information on the film and to request a screening in your area, visit www.heavensrainmovie.com