EXCLUSIVE: The Toronto International Film Festival this morning added Chuck Wepner biopic The Bleeder to next month’s lineup, where it will screen as a Special Presentation. That will follow the world premiere of the Liev Schreiber starrer out of competition at the Venice Film Festival on September 2. Today, we’ve got the first clip — check it out above, and check out the Sopranos-esque accent on co-star Elisabeth Moss, who delivers a KO to Schreiber’s Wepner and his diner date.
Directed by Philippe Falardeau, The Bleeder tells the real-life story of Wepner, the journeyman underdog boxer who was 35 when he improbably pushed world champ Muhammad Ali to the limit in their 1975 title fight. Moss plays his second wife, Phyllis, to whom he was married at the time and who in the clip above is none too pleased to find him chatting up another woman — and the proverbial freckles on her ass.
Naomi Watts, Schreiber’s real-life spouse, is aboard to play Wepner’s third wife Linda, who steered him through troubles after the Ali fight — which included a prison stint for cocaine possession — and ultimately to sobriety and redemption. Ron Perlman, Jim Gaffigan and Pooch Hall also star.
The script is by Jeff Feuerzeig & Jerry Stahl and Michael Cristofer. Schreiber is producing with Mike Tollin, Carl Hampe, Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman; Jeff Rice is exec producing. UTA and Nu Image are co-repping U.S. rights; Nu Image is selling internationally.
Tollin and Feuerzeig purchased Wepner’s life rights a decade ago, and they teamed on the ESPN 30 for 30 docu The Real Rocky, which chronicled Wepner’s story. The boxer claims he was the inspiration for the iconic Rocky Balboa character.
At the screening in Venice, Schreiber will receive the Persol Tribute to Visionary Talent Award 2016.