Bale to play American priest in `Nanjing Heroes`

London: Christian Bale has been chosen to play an American priest in the movie "Nanjing Heroes" based on the Nanjing massacre in China.

The "Batman Begins" actor will play a priest named John, who helped a number of Chinese citizens escape death during the country`s Nanjing massacre, when Japanese troops killed thousands in 1937, reports

The $90.2 million film is being directed by Zhang Yimou, who insists he didn`t choose the actor for his popularity.

"I met Christian in America and was impressed with his serious book research for the role. It`s the overall strategy for Chinese cinema to approach the world and broaden its influence, but casting Bale was a coincidence because the script happened to have an English-speaking part in the lead," said Yimou.

The movie will be filmed in English and Mandarin, and shooting will start Jan 10, 2011 in a Republican Era (1911-1949) replica church built near Nanjing.