EXCLUSIVE: Casey Affleck has found a young star he hopes will play Josh Hamilton, the slugger who recovered from a drug descent to become a baseball superstar now clubbing homers for the Los Angeles Angels. After a lengthy search, the writer-director has set his sights on Jack Reynor, the What Richard Did star who’ll next be seen co-starring in this week’s tentpole release Transformers: Age Of Extinction.
In November 2012, Relativity acquired rights to Hamilton’s incredible life story for a feature film, closing a deal with Hamilton; the book he co-authored, Beyond Belief: Finding The Strength To Come Back; and with Affleck to write and direct. I am a sucker for those inspirational sports films, from The Blind Side to The Rookie and Brian’s Song, and there is certainly one to be made about rising from the depths of addiction. Hamilton overcame a crack cocaine addiction to become one of the most feared sluggers in baseball, something that seemed impossible when he was so rock bottom that his wife kicked him out of the house and he was relegated to cleaning toilets and mowing the grass at a baseball training facility.
There are some real electric moments in Hamilton’s recovery, but none grabbed me more than when he hit 35 homers during the All-Star Game Home Run Derby in 2008. He tired himself out when he blasted 28 long homers in the very first round. It was strategically not that smart, but it was one of the most impressive displays of natural power ever seen on a baseball diamond. Delivered by a man who didn’t give up, found strength through faith and family and kept himself from being another cautionary tale in a sports landscape littered with them.
Numerous young actors sparked to Affleck’s script. They’re still putting the movie together, but the first part of that was finding the right guy to play the strapping Hamilton. Looks like they’ve found their man. Basil Iwanyk, Kevin Walsh and Affleck will produce with Relativity.
Reynor is repped by WME and UK-based McFarlane Chard Associates.