On today's The Real Story, Gretchen Carlson was joined by former Sen. Fred Thompson, who co-stars with her in the new movie 'Persecuted,' along with the film's writer, producer and director, Daniel Lusko.

Gretchen noted that even though this is her first acting role, people seem to only have one question for her about the film, which tells the story an evangelist framed for murder by powerful government officials: "Why is Sen. Fred Thompson not playing a senator in a political thriller, where we do have senators, and (he's) playing a priest?”

Thompson explained he was excited about the opportunity to tackle a new role he hasn't played. He added, “I’ve played enough senators in my life, in real life and otherwise.”

Fred Thompson on Being an 'Outnumbered' Conservative in Hollywood

Lusko explained why he wanted Gretchen in his film and what she brought to the role. “There’s nobody else in the business who has the level of conviction and quality that you do," he said. "This is a movie, 'Persecuted,' that deals with some serious themes … we needed people who had real-life experience and backgrounds to bring to these characters ... Having someone like you in it gave it a lot of credibility.”

Unfortunately, the film is receiving negative reviews from many critics, including a particularly harsh write-up in The New York Times, which Lusko calls "a complete stone-walling around the block" of faith-based films.

“What they’re trying to do is turn the lights out on this movie and say that you don’t want to go see this movie," he said. "And what we need people to know is that there is a threat against religious freedoms … and we need to turn the lights on.”

Thompson saw the negative publicity as a positive.

“This stuff is going to help the movie," he said. "People are going to realize that anything that has to do with faith or anything that has to do with preaching the gospel or Christianity is going to be dealt with in this fashion by the popular press and the popular media.”

After a blockbuster premiere in Los Angeles, 'Persecuted' opens at more than 700 theaters today.

Watch more above, including a clip of Gretchen's performance.

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