How ‘Real Rocky’ Chuck Wepner Survived Ring Beatings And 14 Year Biopic Ordeal

Here is an exclusive clip before tonight’s premiere of the finished feature biopic of boxer Chuck Wepner gets a splashy Tribeca Film Festival premiere, the film showing for the first time under its new title Chuck. Producer Mike Tollin, who has been promising Wepner his life story would make the screen for real since he optioned his rights in 2003 — you can’t count Best Picture winner Rocky even though many, Wepner included, felt Sylvester Stallone channeled Wepner’s bloody battle against Muhammad Ali into his boxing pic — said the title was changed from The Bleeder to get away from comparisons to recent boxing biopics like Bleed For This, Southpaw and Hands of Stone. “Chuck fights Ali at the end of the first act and then there’s no more boxing in the movie,” Tollin said. “To us it has been more like American Hustle, with its authentic feel of the 70s. What’s interesting is that even though Chuck got beat up more than anyone in the ’70s by guys like Ali, Sonny Liston and George Foreman, he survived the pummeling better than most and at 77 years old still runs the liquor route with his wife in Bayonne and he still tells a story with a crispness and a crackle.” Tollin and Jeff Feuereig first turned Wepner’s remarkable saga into the 30 for 30 docu The Real Rocky, and it has been a slow build since to make the feature that Philippe Falardeau directed with Ray Donovan star Liev Schreiber starring and producing, and helping to keep the film going until they finally began production. Said Tollin: “It took so long and it was me renewing 18 month options and at a certain point, Chuck looked me in the eye and said ‘Are we ever going to make this movie?’ I told him yes, absolutely. And he said. Then I don’t want any more money from you. Stop the option payments.” IFC bought the film at Toronto and begins the platform release May 5. The exclusive scene involves Wepner and Stallone. Despite disagreements over the years that led to legal proceedings and a settlement, Stallone was helpful in the movie making process. “Stallone read the scripts, and had a few thoughts and he and Liev had positive dialogue during shooting,” Tollin said. “Sly was supportive.”

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