Dedication: Making it count

Actor Liev Schreiber takes 800 punches to enhance ‘The Bleeder’ credibility

Reuters September 04, 2016
Schreiber has been with Watts since 2005. PHOTO: FILE

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood actor Liev Schreiber took around 800 punches while filming The Bleeder in order to make the boxing drama more credible and not upset the prize fighter whose life it portrays, the actor revealed at the Venice Film Festival.

The movie, based on the life of Chuck Wepner – who almost went fifteen rounds with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali – is one of the films screening in the out of competition section in Venice. Schreiber said he does not like doing biographical films because of the comparisons that are made and the danger is even bigger playing a prize fighter, especially if the fighter is still alive. “Fortunately, Chuck likes the movie and appreciates my efforts. Otherwise, I could be in big trouble,” he said, during a press conference.

Director Philippe Falardeau said he was not convinced by boxing movies where cameras hide the punches or their absence. “Luckily for us, and unfortunately for the insurance company, Liev said he was going to take real punches and that made an enormous difference,” the Canadian director revealed, adding that extra special effort went into portraying the 1975 title fight with Ali. “What you see in the movie are bits and pieces of what happened in the real fight,” he shared. “Sometimes it’s spectacular, sometimes it’s not spectacular but it’s all genuine. And I didn’t watch any boxing movie to prepare for this one.”

But The Bleeder is more than just a boxing drama, Falardeau clarified. “It’s a story of “a kid trapped inside a big man’s body.” Schreiber’s real-life partner, actor Naomi Watts stars in the movie as well and plays Wepner’s latest wife, Linda. Watts chose not to take the role of the earlier spouse, saying she liked the spirit of the character and the difference from her earlier roles.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2016.

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