EXCLUSIVE: Camelot Films has added a raft of cast to its upcoming feature Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher with principal photography set to commence on May 9 on location in Wales.
Matt Hookings (The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica) will star in the titular role, alongside boxing enthusiast Ray Winstone (Black Widow) as Bill Warr, a keen pugilist who becomes both trainer and surrogate father to the film’s lead character, Jem Belcher. Also aboard are Marton Csokas (The Luminaries), Jodhi May (The Witcher), Steven Berkoff (Vikings), Julian Glover (Game of Thrones) and William Moseley (Artemis Fowl). Additional actors are in talks.
The film will tell the little known true story of boxer James Belcher, whose journey to become the youngest ever boxing world champion at the age of nineteen in 1800 helped transform primitive pugilism into the sport of boxing as we know it today. Growing up in poverty and surrounded by violence and addiction, ‘Jem’ is saved by a benevolent mentor and the discipline of boxing, becoming one of the most exciting sportsmen in England. But when a terrible accident befalls him, leaving him blind in one eye and unable to defend his title, he turns back to the ways of his past, sparking a destructive downfall. He finds himself defeated but, refusing to give up, slowly finds a path to recovery to reclaim his title and a place in history as a pioneer of the sport.
The film will be produced by Camelot Films (The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica), Chris Hardman (visual effects on Blade Runner 2049) of Hardman Pictures and Richard Holmes (The Ritual) of Big Rich Films. The film will be executive-produced by Matthew Chausse and Norman Merry.
Pic will be directed by Daniel Graham who, most recently, wrote and directed The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica, the black comedy starring Timothy Spall and Peter Stormare. Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher marks his third feature as director.
Hookings said: “This is the movie that every boxing fan has been waiting for as it tells for the first time the real origins of the modern-day sport that they love. Jem’s life was tragic and unique but highly inspirational and should take its proper place in the history as a true forgotten hero.”
Director Graham added: “As a director I am fascinated with characters who find unconventional ways of doing things even if it means sowing the seed of their own destruction. Prizefighter is an immensely exciting opportunity to realise my vision set amidst a pivotal point in England’s history.”
Producer Richard Holmes stated: “Matt Hookings, Daniel Graham and the team of filmmakers are making an original, passionate and inspirational movie. A film that shows what it takes to be a champion in any endeavour, the grit and focus needed to succeed against all odds. It’s so wonderful to have now the endorsement of such great acting talent who back that vision too.”