Dead Man Walking: The Book, The Movie, and The Play Project
Sister Helen's book Dead Man Walking was instrumental in bringing widespread attention to the issue of the death penalty in the United States. The story's reach grew even wider after it was developed into a movie. Tim Robbins’ film adaptation of Dead Man Walking featured Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen, and Sean Penn as Matthew Poncelet – a character inspired by Robert Lee Willie. Both Robbins and Penn received Oscar nominations for their roles in the film - Best Director and Best Actor, respectively – with Sarandon winning Best Actress for her portrayal of Sister Helen. Following the success of the film, Tim Robbins rewrote the screenplay into a play for use in schools and colleges.
The items in this section highlight the process of writing the book, with letters to and from Sister Helen and her friend, agent, and editor. Also included are documents, photographs, and props Sr. Helen collected during the creation of the movie and play.