It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to Mike Tyson‘s relationship to popular culture, especially in the realms of TV and movies. He’s appeared in a handful of movies and a trio of feature films have been made about him, including the documentary Tyson, HBO’s overcooked biopic of the same name, and Spike Lee‘s filming of his one-man show Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. He has been parodied on The Simpsons in the form of boxer Drederick Tatum, and indeed has his own animated series now, Mike Tyson Mysteries. The cameos are innumerable; the allusions to his personal history and general character even more so.
So, it’s not surprising that a proper Hollywood biopic has been tossed between studios for years, even decades at this point. Lee himself was thinking about making one but like so many of his hugely promising projects, interest from the money people was not forthcoming. In 2014, however, Jamie Foxx said that he was going to make one with himself in the lead role and Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter tentatively on board to direct and write. Not much else has come up since that declaration but today, Screen Rant got an update from the star of Sleepless and Edgar Wright‘s upcoming Baby Driver, and it’s good news.
Here’s the exchange between Foxx and Screen Rant:
Screen Rant: Speaking of getting punched, one of the most polarizing lives of the past thirty years has been Mike Tyson. I know you were attached [to a biopic of Tyson], what’s the update on that?
Jamie Foxx: That is a go.
Screen Rant: It’s a go? Martin Scorsese’s still attached?
Jamie Foxx: Yeah, he’s attached, and it’s—Mike Tyson’s life is one of the most amazing American stories.
Foxx is correct in that Tyson’s story offers innumerable pockets of thematic fascination, from the sheer spectacle of violence to athlete culture to spousal abuse and far beyond. The fear is that, like so many biopics, the film will serve as vaguely sullied hagiography for a complicated public figure who, for better or worse, deserves to have his story told by an empathetic ear like Scorsese. One need look no further than Ray, in which Foxx starred, to see how dull, predictable, and compartmentalized biopics can become even with good actors involved. If this does end up being his follow-up to The Irishman, now that the Sinatra project looks completely dead, I’ve got faith that the filmmaker and Foxx will not – I apologize – pull any punches.