When the mighty fall, they fall hard, and these days the public will first vilify them… and then wonder when we’ll see the movie version. Such is the case with Lance Armstrong, whose very public fall from grace has inspired three different biopics based on different aspects of his story (not to mention a full-length documentary, The Armstrong Lie by Freakonomics director Alex Gibney).
A still unnamed project, based on journalist David Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong, was announced a few months ago and eventually attracted director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and a star in the form of Ben Foster (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) who would portray Armstrong. While this project was still shopping for financial backers, it appeared to be the furthest along in pre-production.
Now, Deadline reports that Studio Canal has agreed to completely back the project, and confirms that Foster will star. The producers are looking begin filming this week, on October 18th. Along with Foster, Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) is set to co-star as David Walsh, with key supporting roles going to Guillame Canet (The Beach) and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad‘s reviled Todd). The script is by Trance and Trainspotting writer John Hodge.
The first Armstrong biopic project announced was Cycle of Lies, based on the book by New York Times sports reporter Juliet Macur, the rights to which were snapped up by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot shingle when it was still a HarperCollins proposal. The project Frears is directing was announced some months after that, followed by another biopic, Red Blooded American - starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Jay Roach (Game Change).
While the core story for all three projects is the revelation that Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs, lied about it, was proven a liar and then stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles, each biopic focuses on different details of this story. Cycle of Lies is based on Juliet Macur’s long-time coverage of the cyclist, Red Blooded American zeroes in on the allegations made by Armstrong’s former U.S. Postal Service cycling teammate Tyler Hamilton, who came forward on 60 Minutes to accuse him of doping.
The project that Foster is headlining is based on journalist David Walsh’s 13-year struggle to uncover the truth about Armstrong’s doping after the cyclist beat cancer to win the 1999 Tour de France. Now that Frears and Foster’s film is going ahead, there is no word on the fate of the other two biopics, but given the names behind them – and the many different angles into this story – don’t expect them to fade away just yet.
Still, this film – again, still untitled, with the book’s Seven Deadly Sins moniker unlikely to remain – will be the first to go before cameras. Frears has established himself as a critically acclaimed director of biopics, most notably The Queen, which followed the British royal family in the wake of the death of Pricess Diana, and his upcoming Philomena is also based on a true story.
While Bradley Cooper bears a slightly closer resemblance to Armstrong, Ben Foster has routinely been a standout in films like 3:10 to Yuma, The Punisher, Pandorum, and The Mechanic. Foster has been on the cusp of breaking onto the A-list of actors for quite some time, and this project’s high prestige potential could be just the ticket.
Stephen Frears and Ben Foster’s untitled Lance Armstrong biopic is set to begin filming this month.