“Sometimes life is like a movie, sometimes it’s even better”
There is a subtle difference between a champion and a legend. A champion is someone who stands out against others, usually an athlete who wins a competition. Instead, you can use the word legend referred to someone who did great things that deserve to be handed down.
He is not a champion, but he is definitely a legend. We are talking about Chuck Wepner, the real boxer who went down in history for having resisted 15 rounds before being knocked out by World Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Ali, and who inspired a young Sylvester Stallone in interpreting the famous character of Rocky Balboa.
Wepner hits the big screen with “The Bleeder“, film directed by Philippe Falardeau (acclaimed director of “The Good Lie” and the Oscar-nominated “Monsieur Lazhar”) and produced and interpreted by Liev Schreiber, for the first time in Hollywood in a leading role, who left everyone speechless .
The movie, starring Naomi Watts, Elisabeth Moss and Michael Rapaport, is about the existential parable of the New Jersey boxer, from his brief success for having “almost” knocked out Ali, to his decline due to a life of excesses that sees him at the mercy of alcohol and drugs.
Seller of alcohol in a town in New Jersey, Wepner has certainly a talent for boxing, so that he has suffered from only two knockouts in 10 years of career, eight nose breaks and 313 stitches. His being the only white boxer in the Top 10 of North America will get him the chance of a life time: a match for title against the world champion Muhammed Ali.
“The Bleeder” is not a typical movie about boxing, which is a sport very appreciated in Hollywood. It is the story of a man, extremely narcissistic and self-centered but very human at the same time. Schreiber interprets the character in a masterful way, bringing on the screen the drama of a man, who, too concentrated on himself, sees the world turn its back on him, leaving him alone with his ego, forcing him to find the identity that seemed to be lost inside this illusory idyllic life.
With a great passion about boxing (who has been practicing for 15 years) and fascinated by Wepner’s story, Liev Schreiber decided to produce the movie with no hesitation: “I loved the idea of someone who was willing to put himself into incredible physical punishment because too in love with his fans,” says Schreiber . “He fought for them, and he fought for victory. And this aspect of boxing was something I had never seen in a movie. I just thought there was something of the character that touched me deeply. I saw the story of Wepner a bit as an identity crisis and a bit as the story of a narcissist, but it was interesting stuff “.
“Another aspect of this story that is fascinating to me is how an average person face the fact of becoming suddenly a celebrity. He was fighting one of the most famous men in history, probably the greatest fighter in the history of this sport, Muhammad Ali. We have explored how that struggle has triggered a complex series of events that changed the life of Chuck.”
Together with him on set there was Naomi Watts, his real life partner and incredibly talented actress who this time decided to challenge herself playing a different role from the usual ones.
“With this character, ” says Watts, “I moved away from my usual characters facing nervous breakdown. Of Linda I always liked her wisdom and the fact of being a woman full of spirit. I met the real Linda, I recorded her character, the way she talks and dresses, and we had a great time together”.
“The Bleeder” is a very exciting movie. A trip through real life with the only difference that you can enjoy it while sitting on the chair of a cinema.
Thanks to Ford Italia
[…] the 73rd Venice Film Festival, as scripted, many films were presented, and among them “The Bleeder” and “In Dobious Battle”, which are special for several reasons: not only because they […]