Fresh off of her final season on AMC’s hit series Mad Men, Elisabeth Moss is now joining the biopic about Rocky inspiration Chuck Wepner. THE BLEEDER, which is led by Liev Schreiber as Wepner, centers on the heavyweight boxer’s claim to fame after he shocked the world by knocking Muhammad Ali to the canvas. Moss joins the cast as production ramps up for an October 26th start.
Naomi Watts will star as Wepner’s third wife Linda, while Moss will take on the role of Wepner’s second wife, Phyllis. The film will explore not only Wepner’s underdog story of personal triumph, but will also delve into the womanizer’s spiral into drugs and jail time, ultimately leading to sobriety and redemption with the help of his wife.
Oscar-nominated helmer Philippe Falardeau is directing the picture, with a script from Jeff Feuerzeig, Jerry Stahl, and Michael Cristofer. Schreiber, who’s been attached to the project for the past five years, is also producing along with Mike Tollin, Carl Hampe, Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman. Jeff Rice is exec producing.
Tollin and Feuerzeig acquired Wepner’s life rights several years back when they produced an ESPN 30/30 docu about Wepner, titled The Real Rocky. Feuerzeig, who also directed The Real Rocky, was at one time attached to helm The Bleeder. Moss takes over the role that was once set to star fellow Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks, though she left the project several years ago.
The Bleeder is the third indie drama based on a real-life boxing legend in the works, with Vinny Pazienza and Roberto Duran the also focus of their own films. Hands of Stone stars Edgar Ramirez as Duran and Robert De Niro as his trainer Ray Arcel, while Bleed For This stars Miles Teller as Pazienza and recounts his return to the ring following a devastating injury.
Boxing continues to be a big draw for studios as well, as the fictional Jake Gyllenhaal boxing pic Southpaw hit theaters this past July and the Rocky spinoff Creed hits screens next month from New Line Cinema and MGM.
Earning rave critical reviews for her role on Mad Men throughout the series’ seven seasons, Moss has broken into the feature world with a slew of performances in both studio pictures and art-house indies. Most recently, she appeared in IFC Films’ Queen of Earth, a dramatic thriller that co-stars Katherine Waterston. She can currently be seen in the Dan Rather true-story drama Truth, which is led by Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, and the thriller Meadowland, which stars Olivia Wilde.
Moss recently wrapped on an adaptation of The Seagull and the Cillian Murphy-led thriller The Free World. She’ll next star opposite Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller in the thriller High Rise, an adaptation of the novel by J.G. Ballard.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor