I have never been convinced by sports movies.

Indeed, I’m struggling to think of a stand-out example where a sport has transferred well to the big screen.

So I’m feeling a little trepidation – and no little bemusement – in learning that rugby is next in line for the Hollywood treatment.

Matt Damon is to play former South African rugby skipper Francoise Pienaar in a film version of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the movie of South Africa’s triumph on home soil will also feature Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.

Freeman has described the part as the “role of his life” and believes Damon is the right choice to play Pienaar.

The film – to be called The Human Factor – is based on Jon Carlin’s book “Play the Enemy: Nelson Mandela And The Game That Made A Nation”.

2 responses »

  1. Rick says:

    Morgan Freeman and Nelson Mandela could be featured in one of those ‘separated at birth’ games, it’s eerie how closely they resemble each other (at least in my mind as I think of it now).

    Sports movies are tough for a couple of reasons. Most actors aren’t very athletic. Rugby is going to be tough because those are some big guys. American football, and I’m guessing rugby as well, are tough because the action is so frenetic with 22-30 guys running around. That’s why baseball works the best for movies. Close up of pitcher. Close up of batter. Pitcher. Batter. Pitcher. Batter. And the crowd goes wild.

    I’d be very interested in seeing a movie of the 95 S.A. rugby team, but it will do zero business in the US.

  2. Paul Groves says:

    Rick: I think if they concentrate on the human interest side of the story, rather than too much of the rugby, then it might just work.

    Richard Harris produced one of the best sports performances as an actor in This Sporting Life (which was rugby league, rather than rugby union). He got an Oscar nomination.
    It was authentic, because as well as being a hard-drinking, hard-living type of bloke, he also played a lot of rugby himself (nine broken noses suggested he played rugby hard too!).


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