The HBO Films presentation Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight tells the story of how boxer Cassius Clay became the world’s best-known and most controversial athlete. After joining the Nation of Islam and changing his name to Muhammad Ali, he was stripped of his title and banned from the sport after he refused to be drafted into the U.S. military, based on his religious opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1971, his case for being a conscientious objector reached the United States Supreme Court, with Nixon-appointed conservative Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (Frank Langella) at its helm, leaving his case in the hands of nine justices. Directed by Stephen Frears, the film also stars Christopher Plummer, Benjamin Walker, Danny Glover, Ed Begley Jr. and Pablo Schreiber.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Benjamin Walker – who plays Justice Harlan’s (Plummer) idealistic new clerk, Kevin Connolly – talked about how he became a part of this project, why he wanted to help tell this largely unknown story, how he felt about the decision to let Muhammad Ali do all of his own talking in the film instead of having an actor play him, and what it was like to work with an actor as accomplished as Christopher Plummer. He also talked about working with Ron Howard on In the Heart of the Sea (based on the 1820 event when a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home), all of the training the cast got to do together, the extreme physicality of the role, and how the goal is to be done shooting around Christmas. Check out what he had to say after the jump.