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Director Antoine Fuqua directs Gyllenhaall in Southpaw

Written by Graeme Wood
11.05.15

Southpaw_Jake_Gyllenhaall

Director Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Southpaw’ opens in the UK this July, the drama stars Jake Gyllenhaall as a boxer fighting his way to the top of his profession only to have his personal life fall apart around him.

Fuqua’s previous films include Training Day, The Replacement Killers, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer. In ‘Southpaw’ Gyllenhaall plays Billy ‘The Great’ Hope a Junior Middleweight Champion whose fighting stance, the ‘Southpaw’, is an ineloquent and brutal display of offensive fighting. Billy Hope has it all; a beautiful home, family and financial security but when a tragic accident leaves his wife dead it sends him on a downward spiral of self destruction. His days become drug and alcohol fuelled, his home is reposed and his daughter taken by Child Services. All seems lost until a washed up former boxer Tick (Forest Whitaker) agrees to take Billy under his wing and train him to mount a comeback in the ring. Billy must become a new man, fight to regain his title and to take back custody of his daughter.

Fuqua has been nominated for several awards previously and won the ‘Black Reel’ Best Director Antoine_Fuquaprize in 2002 for Training Day, though he has not been nominated for an Academy Award even though Training Day’s lead actor Denzel Washington was nominated and won Best Actor in 2002.

The screenplay for ‘Southpaw’ comes from Kurt Sutter who says he was inspired by the struggles of Marshall Mathers, “He shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest rap album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels. He is very interested in the boxing genre and it seemed like an apt metaphor, because his own life has been a brawl. In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life. He’ll play a world champion boxer who really hits rock bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter”.

Eminem was originally in line to play the lead role when the film was at Dreamworks, they later dropped the project and then everything was put on hold when Eminem decided to focus on his music career. Antoine Fuqua came on board to direct in 2014 with The Weinstein Company taking over distribution of the movie. The stellar cast also includes Rachel McAdams, Rita Ora, Naomie Harries, Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent.

Gyllenhaall fresh from his acclaimed performance in ‘Nightcrawler’ has undertaken a stunning physical transformation for the role. The 33 year old method actor, who lost 30lbs to play Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler, added 15lb of muscles to his usual weight to play Billy Hope. Fuqua told Deadline; “Jake is going to change how people see him. I had him training twice a day in the boxing ring, seven days a week. I pretty much had him with me and my trainer every day. He’s a very electric, powerful fighter in this movie.”

Southpaw opens in July in the US and the UK and Fuqua’s next project will be a remake of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ with his Training Day/Equalizer star Denzil Washington, the pair are also in talks regarding a sequel to 2014’s The Equalizer.

View the Southpaw trailer here: