Hollywood discovers rugby
It's uncommon to see movies about rugby.
This Sporting Life, the 1960 "kitchen-sink" gem directed by Lyndsay Anderson and starring Richard Harris (in the defining role of his career), is one of my fave films of all time. But alas, the "sporting life" played here is rugby league.
And at least four movies have been made about the Stella Maris College "Old Christians" rugby team from Montevideo, Uruguay. Alas, that story was more about a plane crash and cannibalism in the Andes, than anything about rugby.
So imagine my suprise -- and skepticism -- when I saw a trailer at Setanta Sports for a new film -- and it really does seem to be about rugby union -- titled Forever Strong, starring Gary Cole and Sean Astin. A reviewer at IMDB who has had a sneak peak, gushes, "It reminded me a lot of Remember the Titans because it included comedy, sadness, and just awesomeness," and "definitely Oscar worthy," neither of which I value as ringing endorsements.
In Martin Scorcese's (decent-but-way-overrated) Oscar-winner The Departed, we see Matt Damon wearing a flyhalf jersey (when he's supposed to be a flanker!), but now Jason Bourne has taken the rugby role one step further. According to press reports the past couple months, Damon is in line to play Springbok captain Francois Pienaar in a new movie directed by Clint Eastwood about Nelson Mandela and South Africa's nation-building RWC win in 1995:
Matt Damon will star as the captain of South Africa's 1995 World Cup-winning rugby team in a film to be directed by Clint Eastwood about Nelson Mandela and the transformative effect of the sporting win, weekend newspapers reported in South Africa.
Damon will star as Springbok ex-captain Francois Pienaar and Morgan Freeman will play Mandela in the film adaptation of a yet-to-be-released book by British journalist and author John Carlin entitled Playing The Enemy: Nelson Mandela And The Game That Made A Nation.
Freeman, who had the idea for the film and brought Eastwood and Damon on board, has described the Mandela role as the the role of his life.
Pienaar admitted to The Sunday Times his wife was especially "pleased" the star of blockbusters such as The Bourne Identity and The Talented Mr Ripley had been chosen to play him.
The Springboks' World Cup victory at home a year after the country's first democratic elections is seen as a defining moment in the history of post-apartheid South Africa.
The image of then president Mandela clad in a Springboks jersey presenting the Webb Ellis trophy to Pienaar became a symbol of new-found unity in the "rainbow nation", given rugby's association with the white minority.
Filming of the movie, which covers the turbulent period between 1985 to 1995, is set to begin next year, the newspaper reported.