David Oyelowo has just won a role of a lifetime. The young actor is being fitted for boxing gloves as he prepares to step into the shoes of the iconic boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson. That’s right, a major biopic is in the works, following the boxers life. Its inspired by the Wil Haygood biography Sweet Thunder: The Life And Times Of Sugar Ray Robinson. Also on board already are Moneyball producer Rachael Horovitz and Game Change screenwriter Danny Strong plans to produce as well. Even Oyelowo will act as executive producer. Author Wil Haygood wrote up a draft of the script, but since Strong has the experience, he may be called upon to do a re-write. There’s no director as of yet.
Strong last made an Optionated headline when we learned actor from “The Gilmore Girls” would be writing the adapted screenplay for Mockingjay, the third film in The Hunger Games series.
Apparently most of this plan for a new film about Sugar Ray developed on the set of another picture, called The Butler, being directed by Lee Daniels. In the film Oyelowo stars with Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker. Strong wrote that script, based on Haygood’s Washington Post article, and the three of them got to chatting about doing a boxing film. It’s always nice to learn how a film idea is born. This also sounds like a really great team. Maybe we’ll get even more films out of them in the future.
Sugar Ray Robinson is considered to many as the greatest boxer in history, especially given his weight class. If you remember Raging Bull, directed by Martin Scorese, starring Robert De Niro, you would recall Sugar Ray fought six times with boxer Jake LaMotta and Robinson won five of those bouts.
Sweet Thunder will focus on the fighter’s early career. It seems that during this era, boxing was controlled by organized crime, and because Robinson refused to play along with them and wouldn’t throw fights, he struggled. In fact, he eventually helped shine a light on those shady dealings.
You may have noticed Oyelowo in his work on the British spy series MI-5, which is currently on Netflix. More recently he appeared in Middle Of Nowhere and The Paperboy. This fall he stars opposite Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher and he’ll even appear in a small role in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis. I think it’s safe to say, in Oyelowo’s case, a star has been born.