At the finals of Wimbledon in 1980, two men—a placid, methodical swede, Björn Borg, and a vocal, emotional American, John McEnroe—went head to head in a grudge-match that is still on the minds of every fan of the sport. The events that shaped these two men are played out in Janus Metz’s Borg/McEnroe, which opened the Toronto Film Festival last night and set the stage for a festival surprisingly heavy in tennis movies (Battle of the Sexes is the one another, but they’re a rare breed of film).
Introducing the premiere at Roy Thomson Hall last night, Metz said he was most interested in the psychological drama of these two athletes competing at the very highest levels in their field. Sverrir Gudnason takes on the role of Borg, who we learn was not always the cool, collected player he became, with Shia LaBeouf starring as McEnroe, a part, Metz joked in his intro, that was the actor’s “role of a lifetime.”
Gathering in Deadline’s Toronto studio, Metz, Gudnason and co-star Stellan Skarsgård, who plays Borg’s coach Lennart Bergelin, break down the complexities of the relationship between Borg and McEnroe, the psychological peculiarities of the tennis tour, and the challenges of executing the game of tennis on screen.
Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii Love, Watford Group, Philosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.