Anthony Hopkins is set to bring his Oscar-and-Emmy-winning repertory skill set to the boxing ring… well, a ring-adjacent location, anyway, set to play trainer Cus D’Amato, in a developing fact-based film project about how the legendary prepper of pugilists molded one fighter in particular, Mike Tyson.
The launch of Berlin’s European Film Market (EFM) has yielded a most intriguing project from Patriot Pictures, a biopic titled Cus and Mike, which, as revealed by Deadline, will have Hopkins headline as the titular trainer. The film is set with The Notebook director Nick Cassavetes, who will work off an original screenplay by Desmond Nakano, based on Montieth Illingworth’s 1991 biography, Mike Tyson: Money, Myth, and Betrayal.
Knighted Welsh legend Hopkins’s role as D’Amato – who wrought two-time heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson and former Olympic Silver medalist and junior middleweight champion, José Torres – will depict the paternal relationship between the elderly trainer and a teenage Tyson during the early 1980s, commencing a tutelage that will first lead the lad to two Junior Olympic gold medals in 1984 and, not long afterward, becoming the youngest Heavyweight Champion in boxing history at the age of 20 in November 1986. However, the latter accolade was one that D’Amato would get to enjoy, since he passed away in 1985 at the age of 77. The trainer was played by another Oscar-winning legend, George C. Scott, opposite Michael Jai White’s Mike, in HBO’s 1995 biopic, Tyson. Interestingly enough, Bruce Willis was recently attached to play D’Amato in another Tyson project titled Cornerman.
While Tyson’s title run remains an era-defining tour-de-force of brutally quick KOs, which gained him the deserved reputation as the baddest man on the planet, D’Amato’s death removed a key stabilizing force in the fighter’s life, leading him to an abrupt personal fall from grace, notably after his stunning upset title loss to James “Buster” Douglas on February 11, 1990, further leading to things like a very-public divorce, incarceration for an alleged rape and the infamous 1997 ear-biting incident in a match against Evander Holyfield; a dramatic downward spiral that’s currently contrasted by the personal peace that, by all accounts, he has achieved.
Hopkins, who after a long career, finally won the industry’s top prize with his 1992 Best Lead Actor Oscar win for The Silence of the Lambs, is coming off a role in this past January’s drama from director Florian Zeller, The Father, and will be seen in director Nick Stagliano’s thriller, The Virtuoso. While his acclaimed role as Dr. Robert Ford on HBO’s Westworld is, for all intents and purposes, done, the flashback-centric narrative of that show could facilitate a secret role reprisal.
Director Nick Cassavetes (son of the legendary actor/helmer, John Cassavetes), whose CV notably contains mandatory romantic fare in 2004’s The Notebook and 2002 Denzel Washington crime thriller John Q, most recently fielded 2014 Cameron Diaz/Leslie Mann/Kate Upton revenge rom-com The Other Woman. As he states:
“This is an absolute dream scenario for me. An opportunity to work with Sir Anthony in a movie about two of my all-time heroes, Cus D’Amato and Mike Tyson, the most ferocious (and my favorite) fighter who ever lived? In a story about father figures that disappear too soon? I’m in heaven. So happy that my first film with Mike Mendelsohn and Patriot Pictures is this one. It should be one for the ages…”
We’ll keep you updated on Cus and Mike as the news arrives!