The real Rocky Balboa takes center stage in the first trailer for Philippe Falardeau’s Chuck. Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) steps into the ring to portray Chuck Wepner, the once “heavyweight champ in New Jersey,” who Sylvester Stallone used for inspiration when writing Rocky, the quintessential boxing movie. Wepner earned notoriety and attention in 1975 after almost going 15 rounds with “The Greatest” himself, Muhammad Ali. Check out the trailer here…
A Wepner movie has been long in the works, with Schreiber and his co-star (and wife) Naomi Watts (Demolition) being attached since 2011 when the movie was titled The Bleeder. The film wrapped principal photography in December 2015 and was screened at the 2016 Venice Film Festival in September, so its theatrical release is a long time coming.
The few critics who were able to catch the film at Venice welcomed it with mostly positive reception, calling it familiar yet enjoyable and commending a no-punches-pulled performance from Schreiber.
Schreiber is no stranger to sports-related movie/TV projects, between his work narrating for HBO Sports and acting in Goon, Goon: Last of the Enforcers and The Hurricane. As a matter of fact, the actor’s recognizable voice can even be heard briefly in the latest film in the Rocky franchise, Creed.
He was the pride of Bayonne, New Jersey, a man who went fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali, and the real-life inspiration for Rocky Balboa. But before all that, Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was a liquor salesman and father with a modest prizefighting career whose life changed overnight when, in 1975, he was chosen to take on The Greatest in a highly publicized title match. It’s the beginning of a wild ride through the exhilarating highs and humbling lows of sudden fame—but what happens when your fifteen minutes in the spotlight are up?
The rest of the cast includes Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Jim Gaffigan (Hot Pursuit), Michael Rapaport (Animals.), Morgan Spector (The Drop), Ron Perlman (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and Pooch Hall (Ray Donovan). IFC Films will release Chuck on May 5th in the US.