As one of the most controversial sports figures of his generation, boxing legend Mike Tyson’s life is ripe for material that would make a compelling film. The man himself agrees with that sentiment, and has for several years, having stated as far back as 2009 that he wants Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx to portray him in a biopic.
It appears that in addition to being a terrific fighter, Tyson is also prophetic, since Foxx has indeed signed on to play Iron Mike on the big screen. Variety broke the story, saying that the film will also be produced by Foxx’s manager Rick Yorn. Since it’s still extremely early in pre-production, the untitled project is without a director or studio distribution, but that should change soon now that Foxx is officially on board.
Boxing may not be as popular in real life as it once was (especially during Tyson’s heyday as the heavyweight champ), but it continues to be a viable draw for moviegoers. Obviously, the Rocky franchise has gone down as one of the industry’s most iconic, but even more recent offerings have proven to be audience favorites. Critically and commercially successful films like The Fighter and Million Dollar Baby are proof that today’s viewers remain interested in boxing tales.
Previously, HBO brought Tyson’s story to the screen in the form of the 1995 movie Tyson, which starred Michael Jai White, but this is the first time such a production will be distributed theatrically. As of now, there are no indications as to what moments of Tyson’s life will be featured, but the filmmakers will certainly have their fair share to choose from. The boxer’s talents displayed in the ring will make for thrilling action sequences, but his tumultuous life outside of the sport (including a six-year stint in prison and a 2003 bankruptcy claim) should provide plenty of dramatic content for the movie.
In their report, Variety also announced that Terence Winter will pen the screenplay. Winter was nominated for an Oscar last year after writing Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Having already tackled the misadventures of one polarizing individual to awards-worthy results, the Boardwalk Empire creator has shown his abilities of handling the extreme content that’s necessary to make a Tyson biopic work. It wouldn’t be surprising if Winter looked to Tyson’s autobiography “Undisputed Truth” for inspiration, as that book covers the ups and downs of his experiences.
The involvement of Foxx is a positive development as well. The actor is no stranger to sports movies, having played Muhammed Ali’s corner man Dwight “Bundini” Brown in Michael Mann’s Ali and star quarterback Willie Beamen in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday. Winning an Oscar for his portrayal of classic musician Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray, Foxx has also illustrated that he can embody a celebrity when he dedicates himself to the part.
His turn as Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 may have been divisive, but more subdued roles in films like Collateral and Django Unchained show off his range. We’ll have to wait to see the end result to make the final judgment, but Foxx should be able to handle this material. When it’s all said and done, it could lead to another Oscar nomination. Plus, Tyson fans can take solace in the fact that his personal choice for all these years will bring him to life at the multiplex. What more could you want?
What say you Screen Ranters? Are you interested in seeing Iron Mike’s life play out on the big screen? Sound off in the comments and let us know who you’d like to see direct (as well as what you think Winter will/ought to cover in his script).
The Untitled Mike Tyson Biopic is currently without a release date. We’ll keep you updated on its progress.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.
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