Christian Bale Steps into The Fighter, David O. Russell Will Direct
by Alex Billington
April 20, 2009
Some big news has hit courtesy of Variety tonight. Christian Bale has joined the project The Fighter in the role of Dicky Eklund, the half-bother of Boston boxer "Irish" Mickey Ward, to still be played by Mark Wahlberg. Matt Damon was originally cast in the role of Eklund, then Brad Pitt replaced him at one point, and now it has ended up in Bale's lap. Additionally, The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky was originally setup to direct this, however he has since moved on and been replaced by David O. Russell, of Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, and I Heart Huckabees previously, as well as the disastrous project Nailed.
The Fighter follows the true story of Mickey Ward and how he went on to win the lightweight championship with the help of Dicky. Eklund once fought Sugar Ray Leonard and nearly went the distance against the boxing legend before forfeiting his career to drugs and crime. He redeemed himself by training Ward through his Rocky-like run to the title. Wahlberg has been training for years (we even reported on it last year) and has been ready for the role for a while. Bale's involvement in this is great, but David O. Russell taking over as director is not, especially in comparison to someone as exceptional as Darren Aronofsky.
I'm guessing that The Wrestler was just too similar to The Fighter, then when they start losing actors and Aronofsky became attached to RoboCop, he eventually passed on the project. Interestingly, Variety doesn't mention anything about Bale and Wahlberg reportedly teaming up in Prisoners, the other hot project in Hollywood also set in Boston. The Fighter will be fully financed by Relativity Media and distributed domestically by Paramount Pictures. I've still got high hopes, as the story sounds great and the cast is incredible, but without Aronofsky, I'm just not sure if it'll be as phenomenal as I was originally hoping.