EXCLUSIVE: Willie Pep biopic Pep, starring James Madio (Band of Brothers), Keir Gilchrist (Atypical) and Ron Livingston (Office Space), will go before cameras next month, in the famed boxer’s hometown of Hartford, CT.
Robert Kolodny (the cinematographer behind Netflix’s Procession) is directing the film from a script by Steve Loff, with Madio starring as the featherweight champion who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Pep is roundly considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. He knocked plenty of opponents out, but was brilliant defensively. The latter helped, given Pep fought professionally over 200 times over 26 years. Legend has it that he won the third round of his 1946 bout against Jackie Graves without throwing a single punch.
The sports drama picks up with Pep in 1965, after the limelight has faded. Living with his Italian immigrant parents, a wife half his age and a drug-addled son in a single-family home in Hartford, Pep is tired of obscurity and wants to be a “somebody” again. At the age of 42, with debts mounting and a past that looms large, Pep decides to return to the ring, making a comeback designated by the New York Times as a “Top 10 Human Interest Story.”
Gilchrist will play Pep’s son, Billy Jr., with Livingston portraying his business manager Bob Kaplan. The film’s female lead has not yet been cast.
Appian Way is producing with Golden Ratio Films, Loff, Asger Hussain, Bennett Elliott and Robert Greene, who will also serve as the film’s editor. Oscar-nominated documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams) is also on board as its exec producer.
Madio is repped by Harden Curtis Kirsten Riley Agency and Liebman Entertainment; Gilchrist is repped by ICM Partners and Thruline Entertainment; Livingston is with UTA and Thruline.