In the last couple of years, actor Shia LaBeouf has arguably gotten more attention from the media and the public due to his behavior than he has for his acting. Though a one time Disney Channel staple in the early stages of his career, LaBeouf’s off camera antics have gone from strange to even stranger over the years, while his acting choices have become increasingly less commercial.
From accusations of plagiarism, to claims of retirement from acting, to heavier incidents involving a variety of criminal charges, it seems that LaBeouf is doing his best to be pegged as a Hollywood badboy. He’s certainly not the first celebrity to go this route – and he definitely won’t be the last, but for the time being, at least, it looks like he’s taken on a new film role that he’ll likely find somewhat relatable.
The role in question is that of famed American tennis star John McEnroe, a.k.a. The Brat, in Danish director Janus Metz' upcoming biopic Borg/McEnroe. According to THR, LaBeouf will star alongside Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason, who will be portraying McEnroe’s long-standing Swedish nemesis, tennis icon Bjorn Borg.
The film will examine the rivalry between the two tennis greats, who met as competitors a total of 14 times on the regular professional tennis tour from 1978 to 1981 and 22 times in total. Both athletes won seven of their fourteen tour matches, leaving an even record and taking each other on in two legendary finals at Wimbledon in the process. As far as athletes go, one couldn’t ask for more of a divide between two competitors – with Borg known for his cool and calm demeanor and McEnroe notorious for his courtside tantrums. So prominent were these two attributes amongst McEnroe and Borg that their rivalry was commonly referred to as “Fire and Ice.” McEnroe retired from the professional tennis tour in 1992, with Borg following suit in 1993.
While Labeouf’s recent efforts to distance himself from big budgeted CGI spectacles has yielded some mediocre results, the role of John McEnroe does seem quite well suited to him. McEnroe’s temper on and off the court were consistently scrutinized by the media, just as LaBeouf himself has had an ongoing love/hate relationship with fame, his career, and the public’s perception of him.
There’s undoubtedly more to John McEnroe than his tantrums, but should LaBeouf’s talents push past the more obvious aspects of McEnroe’s character and deliver a well rounded interpretation, there’s ample reason to believe that this is exactly the sort of role that can provide much critical attention and acclaim.
Borg/McEnroe is set to hit theaters in 2017