Posted on Monday, April 10th, 2017 by Ben Pearson
I’ve seen all of the Rocky movies a handful of times, but I’ve somehow never thought to do any research into writer/star Sylvester Stallone’s inspiration for his underdog boxing story. Sly apparently wrote the script in three and a half days after watching an unknown fighter named Chuck Wepner beat the odds and miraculously go 15 rounds against one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali, and now IFC Films is telling Wepner’s story in a new biopic starring Liev Schreiber. Check out the Chuck trailer below.
This is the latest sports film for Schreiber, who has appeared in films like Goon, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Pawn Sacrifice (let’s say chess is a sport for these purposes), and The Hurricane. But most interestingly, the actor already has a direct connection to the Rocky mythology: Schreiber is credited as the HBO 24/7 narrator in 2015’s Creed, the spin-off sequel that featured Stallone reprising his beloved role as Rocky Balboa and starred Michael B. Jordan as Adonis, the son of Apollo Creed (who was loosely based on Muhammad Ali).
Chuck debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival under the title The Bleeder. Personally, I think they should have kept that title, because Chuck still conjures images of that now-cancelled NBC series that starred Zachary Levi (and I didn’t even watch that show). At least The Bleeder provides some insight into Wepner’s character beyond merely his first name. Titles are incredibly important for small movies like this that won’t be spending multiple millions of dollars in promotions, so here’s hoping they know what they’re doing because this actually looks like a fascinating film. There’s a solid supporting cast here that includes Naomi Watts, Elisabeth Moss, Ron Perlman, Jim Gaffigan, and Michael Rapaport. Chuck is directed by Philippe Falardeau (The Good Lie).
If you’re the type of person who likes to know as much information as possible before you dive into something, here’s some homework for you. Back in 2011, ESPN produced a documentary in the company’s 30 for 30 series called The Real Rocky, which detailed Wepner’s story. Here’s the trailer for that doc:
Chuck hits theaters on May 5, 2017.
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Chuck is the true story of Chuck Wepner, the man who inspired the billion-dollar film series Rocky—a liquor salesman from New Jersey who went 15 rounds with the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. In his ten years in the ring, Wepner endured two knockouts, eight broken noses, and 313 stitches. But his toughest fights were outside the ring: an epic life of drugs, booze, wild women, incredible highs and extraordinary lows.