Zach McGowan plays Chuck Wepner - the real life boxer who helped inspire Rocky Balboa - in the trailer and poster for The Brawler. Sylvester Stallone's Rocky is one of the most iconic characters in Hollywood and has appeared in no less than eight films over the last forty-three years, including 2018's Creed II. Far less famous, however, is Wepner, the boxer who served as the basis for "The Italian Stallion" in the first place. The former heavyweight fighter was a world-ranked contender at one point in his career and fell just short of going a full fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali in a 1975 fight. Their brawl went on to provide the template for Rocky and Apollo Creed's match in the original Rocky.
Despite Stallone's initial denial that he modeled his Rocky script after Wepner and Ali's showdown, he eventually settled a lawsuit with Wepner over the matter and their connection has since been - generally - accepted as a fact. Wepner was previously brought to life on the big screen in 2016's Chuck, a biographical drama starring Liev Schreiber as the heavyweight bruiser. Now, the tale is being revisited in The Brawler, with McGowan - best known for his roles on the TV series Black Sails and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - stepping into the ring instead.
Screen Rant is exclusively premiering the trailer for The Brawler, which you can check out below (followed by the poster). McGowan is joined in the film's cast by Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) and Amy Smart (Justified) - who play Wepner's second and third wives (respectively), Phyllis and Linda - in addition to Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix) as Wepner's trainer and manager, Al Braverman, and Jerrod Paige (Louis) as Muhammad Ali. For more, check out the synopsis included below.
Based on the true events behind “Rocky”. Local boxer, Chuck Wepner was slinging liquor in Bayonne, New Jersey when he got the call. Chuck was going to fight the Heavy Weight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali. Chuck trained hard, pushing himself to the limit so he could go toe to toe with the greatest fighter of all time. His heroic battle with Ali was only the beginning of a wild ride that takes Chuck from the lows of New Jersey to highs of Hollywood.
The Brawler was directed by Ken Kushner (Murderland, When the Devil Comes) from a script he cowrote with Robert Dibella (The Rise and Fall of Howie Spira). Kushner's film certainly has a compelling tale to draw from and should provide a nice showcase for McGowan's acting, by the look of things. The latter has spent years making an impression with his supporting roles on television, including his performances on continuing genre series like The 100 and The Walking Dead, in addition to the aforementioned shows and his two season stint on Shameless some years back. For those who missed seeing Chuck and/or are interested in seeing McGowan put his own spin on Wepner, this one could be worth checking out.
The Brawler premieres in select theaters and On Demand on Friday, January 18.
Source: Vertical Entertainment