Earlier this year, Emma Stone and Steve Carell were set to duel on the tennis court as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes. Now, citing scheduling conflicts, Stone has left the picture. This opens the door for indie darling Brie Larson, who is currently in talks to star in directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ picture scripted by Simon Beaufoy.
As Variety reports, Larson is in talks to play King, who, at 29-years-old and ranked number two among female tennis players in 1973, challenged the 55-year-old Wimbledon champion Riggs, who came out of retirement for the match. Their contest was one of three tagged with the title of “Battle of the Sexes” but is the only one in which, spoiler alert, the female competitor won. King went on to become a spokeswoman for women’s rights and a beacon of empowerment for generations to come. It’s not clear whether this film will focus on King’s life beyond this pivotal match, but her legacy is certainly one that deserves cinematic attention.
You may recognize the directors of Battle of the Sexes from Little Miss Sunshine; their new film has been called “a comedy with dramatic and political overtones” in the vein of their Oscar-winning movie. At the moment, there are two rival tennis-themed projects also in development. HBO’s retelling of the same historical tennis match, Proof, will star Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti in the lead roles. Will Ferrell is set to star as Riggs in Match Maker, which his company Gary Sanchez is producing with Chernin Entertainment from a script by Steve Conrad (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty).
Larson, meanwhile, starred in Lenny Abrahamson’s drama Room, which recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival; you can read Matt’s review here. Thanks to her consistently stellar performances in indie films over the years, Larson has a string of indies lined up through next year, but is also in talks to lead the epic genre film Kong: Skull Island. If you haven’t sought her films out yet, do yourself a favor and revisit her filmography before everyone starts claiming that she’s “the next big thing.”