First Production Photos from Gavin O'Connor's Warrior
Last year during the Toronto Film Festival, we were the first to receive a scoop on Gavin O'Connor's next film, a mixed martial arts (MMA) drama titled Warrior. Earlier this year he announced the cast - Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy, and Joel Edgerton. And now the Post-Gazette has the first photos from the production, which is currently shooting in Pittsburgh. It's not really safe to make this comparison, but O'Connor is essentially trying to make an MMA version of Rocky. "I think there's an opportunity to tell a story in this world, and it's a world that has a lot of interest right now," producer Greg O'Connor told me last year.
Nick Nolte plays an ex-Vietnam vet and boxer-turned-steel mill worker whose family was torn apart by his alcoholism; the now-sober and remorseful dad welcomes back his youngest son (Hardy) and trains him to compete in a MMA tournament. He and his older brother (Edgerton), who still remains estranged, end up on a collision course in the ring. The screenplay was written by Gavin O'Connor and newcomer Anthony Tambakis. As explained in the Post-Gazette article, "Warrior explores fathers and sons, brotherly bonds and rivalries and the increasingly popular world of mixed martial arts." See more production photos below.
In addition to the three aforementioned actors, the Warrior cast also includes Jennifer Morrison, pro wrestler Kurt Angle as a Russian named Koba, and Frank Grillo as Brendan's trainer. "The movie builds to Sparta, a 16-man, single-elimination tournament set in Atlantic City but being staged at the Petersen Events Center with real fighters lending some verisimilitude. With 17 key fights in the script, stunt-fight coordinator J.J. 'Loco' Perry has his hands full." Perry, who helped get Hugh Jackman in shape for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has been working with the stuntmen, fighters, and actors, to get everyone in shape.
While this definitely does seem like a slightly larger production than David Mamet's Redbelt - which was also about mixed martial arts - I have a feeling it'll still have a very indie feel to it in the end. I'm also guessing there will be plenty of other "celebrity" appearances from other professional wrestlers and/or MMA fighters, especially if they were able to get Kurt Angle. I'm not exactly fond of Gavin O'Connor as a director (he hasn't really impressed me at all), but I am looking forward to this, at least to check out the fights and because of the cast. We'll be sure to let everyone know when we come across more photos.