It was June 2, 2017 when Cecilia Wessels captured the now-famous shot of her husband Theunis trying to get his chores done at their home in Three Hills, Alta.; he was calmly mowing the lawn while a tornado swirled in distance, a few kilometres away.
“I said, ‘Honey do you see that thing?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I’m keeping an eye on it.’ So I took a photo for everyone in South Africa because this is our first tornado,” Cecilia said Monday. “I put it on Facebook and poof!”
The shot went viral and has since appeared in numerous publications including Time, Esquire and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
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The couple thought the excitement had died down, but in October 2018, they were contacted by people working on the movie Vice.
“We were told that Brad Pitt produces it and Christian Bale plays in it,” Cecilia said. “They sent me a contract and [I] read it over and signed it.”
Theunis said he still can’t believe the photo is in a major motion picture.
“It’s like a mixture between super proud and surreal,” he said.
The photo appears in the movie as former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney makes decisions following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The same soldiers that had to go to that war and 9/11, they all had to stick to what they had to do within the storm,” Cecilia said. “And that seems to be the message for a lot of people: no matter your storm, just do your work.”
Theunis said veterans from Afghanistan have approached them to say how much they appreciate the photo.
“[Veterans were] just saying, ‘Thank you very much,’ for giving them focus,” he said. “I appreciated that for different people the photo means different things.”
The couple was coy when it came to how much Hollywood was willing to pay.
“It was worth it,” Cecilia said with a laugh.
The Wesselses couldn’t say enough about the movie, which is predicted to pick up several Academy Award nominations on Tuesday. Vice had six Golden Globe nominations and Christian Bale won best actor.
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