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Rockwell packs punch with boxing biopic

EXCLUSIVE: A Single Shot director and actor to reteam on biopic of Billy Miske.

US director David M Rosenthal is reteaming with his A Single Shot star Sam Rockwell for a biopic of boxer Billy Miske. The pair discovered their joint love of boxing when they were making A Single Shot, which premieres tonight in Berlin’s Forum. “He’s been wanting to do a boxing movie forever, I’ve wanted to do a boxing film,” Rosenthal said.

“We stumbled upon a story about a legendary folk hero boxer from the 1920 Billy Miske, a journeyman boxer,” Rosenthal told Screen. “In his prime he’s diagnosed with a fatal disease. Instead of giving up and walking away he decides to tell no one and keep boxing even though he’s withering away. It’s an incredible story.”

Rosenthal has secured the rights to Clay Moyle’s book Billy Miske: The Saint Paul Thunderbolt. Miske started his career as a middleweight and lost the World Heavyweight Boxing title in 1920 to Jack Dempsey. He suffered from Bright’s Disease even when fighting his last bout against Bill Brennan in 1923. His final professional record was 72-15-14 with 33 wins by knockout.

Michael Costigan is on board to produce the as-yet-untitled feature. The team is now out to writers.

Rosenthal hopes it will be his next project. “Sam, Michael and myself are eager to get the wheels in motion, it’s not one we want to linger in development for a long time.”

He said the budget level would be “manageable.”

As for A Single Shot, about a man who accidentally kills a young girl while hunting, and has to make tough moral choices later, Rosenthal says, “It’s modern noir, it has a western element to it, it’s kind of classical and allegorical. I was drawn to these rich atmospherics from the script and the writing that was in the book…It’s got this gothic kind of quality to it.”

Producers of A Single Shot are Chris Coen, Keith Kjarval and Aaron Gilbert.

The director says Rockwell was perfect for the lead role in the film. “Sam Rockwell was one of these actors who I have so much reverence for, when I see him in anything, he’s always brilliant… The character is very lonely, and it’s a difficult journey and one which an actor has to have an incredible amount of depth to carry this inner life. I had no doubt he could do it…I’m so thrilled to be working with Sam again.”

In addition to Rockwell, the cast also features Jeffrey Wright, Kelly Reilly, Jason Isaacs, Joe Anderson, Ophelia Lovibond, Ted Levine and 
William H. Macy.

Rosenthal’s past credits include See This Movie, Falling Up, and Janie Jones.

 

 

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