Shia LaBeouf to Play John McEnroe in Upcoming Film Borg
One of the most famous sports rivalries will be coming to the silver screen this year. In Borg vs. McEnroe, Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf will play Björn Borg and John McEnroe, respectively, two famed professional tennis players whose great playing styles and contrasting demeanors made for one of the most compelling sports sagas in the 1970s and 1980s.
The film will be directed by Danish filmmaker Janus Metz Pedersen, whose other work includes installments of True Detective and the documentary Armadillo. Borg vs. McEnroe will be his highest profile work to date. A great deal of speculation of the movie involves LaBeouf’s portrayal of McEnroe. The Borg-McEnroe rivalry was known as “Fire & Ice,” with the hot-headed and temper-prone McEnroe being granted the “fire” name in comparison to his more subdued rival. LaBeouf himself is no stranger to well-known problems regarding his demeanor, having had multiple arrests involving public outbursts and uncooperative behavior. It shouldn’t be too much trouble for him to channel the rage of McEnroe at this time.
One person who isn’t completely excited about the film is McEnroe himself. In a recent interview, McEnroe said he was not consulted about the film beforehand.
“I don’t know how you can do it without ever meeting me,” McEnroe said. “Maybe you can talk to a few of my friends. I can barely remember what I was like 36 years ago when I was 21 years old.”
Still, McEnroe has some semblance of hope that the film ends up as a success.
“It could be entertaining,” McEnroe said. “If it’s good, it’d be cool. Let’s hope.”
From the looks of things, LaBeouf is taking his role rather seriously. On-set photos of him in costume have surfaced, and he looks to be emulating McEnroe’s look quite strongly. Whether that will add up to a gripping performance remains to be seen, but it is an encouraging sign. It is no secret that LeBeouf is a huge sports fan. He is frequently seen at LA Dodgers games, and caught some Blackhawks hockey while in Chicago last week.
Word is that LaBeouf had been preparing for his role as the tennis great. According to LaBeouf at a press conference held last May, he’d been training in the sport and his backhand was “getting there.” He’s also offered encouraging words about the quality of the script, testifying that he cried upon reading it.
Playing McEnroe’s rival, Björn Borg, is an actor less known to American audiences, Sverrir Gudnason. He has received attention for such films as Original and television series such as Wallander. As Borg, Gudnason could very well have a breakout role that sparks international stardom.
While Gudnason will portray Borg as an adult, there is some notable casting for the role of Borg’s younger self. Borg’s real-life son, Leo, will be portraying his father as an adolescent in the film.