The Reaping may be a thriller about religious phenomena, but megaproducer Joel Silver was not about to let any higher power keep him from casting Hilary Swank as its lead. ''It was the week of the Academy Awards,'' Swank remembers of her 2005 Million Dollar Baby Best Actress run. ''Joel Silver called, and he said, 'I want you to read this script.' I read it on the flight from New York to L.A. I landed, called, and said, 'I really liked it, Joel, thanks.' And he's like, 'Great, I want you to come in and meet.' I said, 'After this week, okay? Busy week!' And he said no no no no no.... So I took the meeting the Friday before the Awards, and he convinced me to do the movie right then and there.... And that's why he's Joel Silver.''
Filming the horror story, in which Swank plays a former Christian missionary who's lost her faith after an accident and now spends her time debunking religious myths, was not so quick and easy. Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana midshoot, halting production for some five weeks and displacing much of its local staff. ''It was a really difficult time,'' Swank says. ''A lot of our crew was from New Orleans, so a lot of them lost their homes.'' There was no question of moving the shoot to another location, however: ''We weren't about to pull out of a place that, economically, needed the movie to be there.''