Is 'Captive' Based On A Book? The New Drama Finally Brings Ashley Smith's Memoir To The Big Screen

A man accused of rape escapes a local courthouse, shooting the judge who presided over his case as well as a few others in the process, and runs across town, eventually hiding in a single woman's apartment, where he keeps the woman hostage for seven hours. This is the premise of Captive, a new drama starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo. Captive tells the incredible story of Ashley Smith (Mara), a single mother held captive by Brian Nichols (Oyelowo), escaping only after using religion to persuade Nichols to surrender himself to authorities. If you're wondering whether or not Captive is based on a book, the answer is yes. In fact, Captive is based on Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Crisis, a memoir written by Smith in 2005.

On Mach 12, 2005, Ashley Smith was held captive by Brian Nichols, a man accused of rape who shot and killed multiple people during his escape from the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. Nichols held Smith in her home for seven hours, during which an city-wide manhunt was underway for Nichols. Smith was a 26-year-old single mother at the time, struggling with an addiction to meth while her daughter, Paige, was in the custody of an aunt. Alone with Nichols in her apartment, Smith began reading aloud from Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, a Christian spiritual book. Eventually, with the help of the book, Smith was able to convince Nichols to surrender himself. After the story became national news, Smith published a book about her ordeal, Unlikely Angel, that same year.

Upon its release, Unlikely Angel became a New York Times bestseller and, soon after, Smith was approached about the possibility of turning her memoir into a film. Now, 10 years later, Unlikely Angel will finally arrive on the big screen with Captive, and Smith couldn't be happier. "We were originally asked to do a movie 10 years ago, and the thought was always there. We kept going down different avenues, and I pretty much just kept saying, 'In God's timing and whenever He's ready for it. Whatever way He's ready for it — whether that is to be in a movie theater or on a television show, or whatever it may be, just let it be God's will,'" Smith told The Digital Breakdown.

Captive hits theaters on Sept. 18, just shy of Oscar season. Memoir-based films have frequently been popular Oscar-bait. Here are a few to watch while you wait for Captive to be released.

The Theory Of Everything

Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything , a film based on the book by his ex-wife Jane Hawking. (Felicity Jones, who played Jane Hawking, was also nominated for her work in the film.)


Wild is yet another beloved adaptation, also nominated for a few Academy Awards in 2015. In Wild, Reese Witherspoon took on the role of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who took on a 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother. The critically acclaimed film was based on Strayed's 2012 memoir of the same name.

127 Hours

James Franco starred as Aron Ralston, the adventurer who made headlines when he cut off his own arm for survival. Ralston wrote about his experience in his memoir titled Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which was later adapted into 127 Hours.

As these movies show, powerful true stories have the potential to make for equally-powerful films.

Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (3)