As was widely expected, a movie about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is set to go into production after Bad Robot partners JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk snapped up the rights to Juliet Macur’s forthcoming book Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong, reports Deadline.com. Macur – a sports reporter for The New York Times – has covered Armstrong’s career for over a decade, through the cyclist’s Tour de France wins, his recovery from cancer and eventual doping revelations. The American had denied using performance enhancing drugs for years, though finally admitted to cheating during a much-publicized interview with Oprah Winfrey last week.
Sony Pictures has long had an Armstrong movie project in the works, though that movie was dropped when the cyclist’s fall from grace began. It was set to star Jake Gyllenhaal and would have told the ‘American hero’ narrative of Armstrong’s rollercoaster career. Of course, the story has changed dramatically and Abrams film will focus on a cheat who pays a high price for his lies. As movie writer Mike Fleming Jr reports, the whole thing is reminiscent of when Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe made a deal with Phil Spector to tell the story of the producer’s life story, though the director went on record as saying the film “lacked a good third act.” That was obviously provided shortly afterwards when Spector was convicted of shooting the actress Lana Clarkson, but Universal, Crowe and Cruise never went forward with the project. It’s likely that JJ Abrams and his team will tackle the Armstrong project head on, but who could play the man himself? Who has the presence to portray such a complex character on-screen? Here’s 10 actors who we think could become Lance:
Ok, so maybe it’s an obvious choice given he was attached to a previous Lance Armstrong movie, though JJ Abrams may well choose to stick with the young American star. He was chosen by Sony Pictures for a reason, and does have a likeness to the cyclist. There’s no questions about his acting pedigree and Gyllenhaal is arguably at the top of his game at the moment, following a stunning turn in End of Watch in which he played a heroic Los Angeles cop.
It’s a shame that there’s almost no chance of McConaughey playing Lance Armstrong, as he’s pretty much perfect for the role. The actor – who is known to be good friends with the cyclist and therefore wouldn’t entertain the idea of portraying his downfall – has a similar physique and look to Armstrong and is about the right age. Real shame.
Sort of out of leftfield, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the hottest names in Hollywood right now and is ready for a major role having been lauded for his supporting performances in the likes of The Dark Knight Rises and Inception. One thing in the actor’s favor is that he can ride a bike, really fast. He starred in the New York cycling drama Premium Rush in which he bottled through the streets of Manhattan on his push bike. Unlikely to land the role, but we’d be surprised should Abrams not at least consider Levitt.
Perhaps the most likely to land the role, Brad Pitt is the type of Hollywood A-lister that could do the role justice. He’s perhaps a little old, though we’re sure a haircut here and some beard trimming there would give Pitt a resemblance of the former Olympic winning cyclist. He’s played plenty of important and serious roles and wouldn’t be daunted by the huge anticipation for the film. We reckon Mr Pitt will be getting a call from Mr Abrams pretty soon.
Another Hollywood star with a strong physique and likeness to Armstrong, Australian Sam Worthington will certainly be in the mix for the role. Though he missed out on James Bond, there are murmurs around Hollywood that Worthington has already agreed in principal to become 007 once Daniel Craig hangs up his tuxedo in a couple of movies time. It still gives Worthington time to begin work on the Armstrong biopic, though would he jeopardize his chances of landing Bond?
The German-born Irish star is now one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and following high profile turns in Shame, X-Men First Class and Prometheus, Fassbender might be ready to step up and take this Armstrong movie by the scruff of the neck. Another star with a strong jawline and the physical presence to play the cyclist, Fassbender will no doubt be considered for the role, though whether he edges in front of the likes of Sam Worthington and Jake Gyllenhaal remains to be seen.
The Bourne actor playing Lance Armstrong is a strange proposition, though a couple of years ago, speculation suggested Damon was strongly linked with the original movie. He claimed he was too old while speaking with MTV News at the Gotham Awards. “I was way too old ten years ago to play him…No, that ship sailed a while ago because of how old I was. I still think that story is remarkable and I'm sorry for what's happened, but I have to say he's done incredible things and he's given a lot of people a lot of hope, he's made a hell of an impact on a lot of lives and he raised a ton of money for cancer research. I love the guy,” he said. It’s likely that Damon’s opinion on Armstrong may have changed in past couple of weeks, and if he considered himself too old 10 years ago, then he’s certainly too old now.
A relative unknown, Max Martini has one thing in his favor that could put him ahead in the race to play Armstrong: he looks exactly like the cyclist. The American actor is perhaps best known for his role as Corporal Fred Henderson in Saving Private Ryan, though has had roles in The Unit, Level 9 and The Great Raid. If Abrams and his team consider Martini good enough to play Armstrong on the big-screen, he surely would have to be approached. He’s about to go into production for new TV mini-series The Heretics with Joely Richardson, though his schedule looks pretty open after that.
Another actor who has a true likeness to Armstrong, Aaron Eckhart possesses the acting skills and experience to play the serial cheater. Audiences are pretty familiar with The Dark Knight star, though he’s reached a steady level of fame whereby playing Armstrong would still appear believable. Brad Pitt, for example, might take something away from the story JJ Abrams is trying to tell. Don’t write Eckhart off.
A superb actor, the cultured Guy Pearce doesn’t particularly resemble Lance Armstrong, he doesn’t have an Olympians’ physique, though he would undoubtedly bring a richness to the role that JJ Abrams will require. He’s in high demand and has several projects coming up over the next couple of years, but it may pay for producers to take a gamble on Pearce.