Having been quietly developing the film project since 2011, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has begun expanding the cast list of his upcoming movie, Southpaw. With Jake Gyllenhaal already confirmed for the lead role, Forest Whitaker is now in talks to join him.
Southpaw is a boxing movie that charts the professional rise of a welterweight boxing champion, while he endures a variety of personal tragedies. Originally intended as a vehicle for Eminem (Marshall Mathers), after the success of 8 Mile, the screenplay is written by Sons Of Anarchy creator, Kurt Sutter. Gyllenhaal will play the boxing champion, while Forest Whitaker is eyeing the role of his trainer – a former fighter himself, now mentor to the younger champion.
The potential addition of Whitaker to this project elevates it to a new level. A Jake Gyllenhaal boxing drama is already interesting, but Forest Whitaker brings with him a presence and gravitas that is all-too-rare in modern cinema. What we could have here is a re-imagining of the award-winning Ethan Hawke/Denzel Washington dynamic from Training Day, with the younger, less experienced, but ambitious character residing under the wing of the older, more world-weary senior character. Director Antoine Fuqua has more than proven himself to be a skilled master at conducting that kind of balletic sparring – both verbal and physical.
It will be a fine balance to strike, however – for this film to be its own entity, and not appear to be just Training Day in a boxing ring. Likewise, with Eminem long since departed from the role, writer and producer Kurt Sutter has hopefully re-worked the script enough that his absence isn’t glaringly obvious. Indeed, the pairing of the incredible talents of Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker should be more than exciting enough to fill the screen.
Southpaw is clearly gearing up towards production at last, so stay tuned as we await more casting announcements in the coming weeks.