Over the course of its development, the boxing drama Southpaw has become just about as much of an underdog as the fighter who serves as its main character. What started out as a sports drama that was supposed to star Eminem and be tied closely to his experiences coming up in the rap world has now slipped through the hands of several studios and lost its original star, but still seems to be fighting to earn the right to go in front of cameras and become a real life feature film. And probably with good reason, because it was put together by a couple of talented people.
From the very beginning this film was going to be helmed by Training Day and Olympus Has Fallen director Antoine Fuqua, and back when it was in development at DreamWorks it got a script that was penned by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, so clearly there has to be some material here worth salvaging. Despite the project’s pedigree, however, it’s already been dropped by DreamWorks, picked up by MGM, and then eventually put into turnaround there. But with its recent acquisition by the Weinstein Company, it’s looking like there finally might be some new work being done in the casting department that could actually lead to getting this movie made.
The Wrap is reporting that Fuqua and the Weinsteins are currently negotiating with Jake Gyllenhall to come in and play the role that was originally designed for Eminem. Ignoring the unfortunate misstep that was Prince of Persia, Gyllenhaal has proven himself to be a capable leading actor who can successfully open movies so long as they give him some amount of dramatic material to sink his teeth into (like Source Code and End of Watch), and this role that is described as being much more about a man learning to be a father than learning to be a boxer seems like it could be just that. The basic story seems to be that Gyllenhaal would be playing a left-handed fighter who, soon after earning his big break in the boxing world, experiences a tragedy that leaves him looking to both rebuild his life and earn the respect of his young daughter.
Gyllenhaal is currently filming Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut Nightcrawler and has upcoming roles in Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy as well as Baltasar Kormakur’s Everest, but it’s being said that, should his Southpaw negotiations go well, the film would begin production sometime in 2014. Which would probably be a relief for Fuqua, because lord has he been fighting to get this thing off the ground for a while now. At this point, landing a star as big as Gyllenhaal and getting released by an outfit as shrewd in their promotion as the Weinstein Company would have to be seen as a twelfth round knockout for the film. Guys, the point here is, never give up.