Screenwriter Gary Ross Hired for Lance Armstrong Biopic
by Alex Billington
June 10, 2009
If there is one biopic I'd absolutely love to see, it's one about cyclist Lance Armstrong, who is one of the most amazing individuals on the planet, both in terms of physical strength and in what he has achieved with Live Strong. Columbia Pictures has been trying to develop a biopic about Armstrong for a number of years, but its never really gotten too far along. However, THR reports today that Oscar nominated screenwriter Gary Ross (Big, Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) has been hired to write a new script based on Armstrong's first book, "It's Not About the Bike." The project is being developed by Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall.
Marshall explains that it was Armstrong's recent decision to come out of retirement this year to try to win a record eighth title (see this news report) that helped get this project back into gear. "We got inspired by his comeback, and we were able to (get going again)." As for choosing Gary Ross, he explains that it was his work on Seabiscuit that made him feel like the perfect fit. "The story of Armstrong's improbable comeback from illness to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles - and his capturing of the American imagination in doing so - carries echoes of Seabiscuit." Not the best comparison, but not a good choice nevertheless.
It's hard to tell how much of Armstrong's life we'll see in the biopic this early on, however, with his book "It's Not About the Bike" being the inspiration, it's likely it we'll see more of his early career, as that was published in 2000. The book traces his story from his difficult Texas upbringing, his cancer diagnosis in 1996, his relationship to first wife Kristin, the birth of their child and his remarkable comeback from illness that saw him first win the Tour de France in 1999. No matter how much of his story ends up on screen, I'll be there opening day. Now they just need to find a great director and a great actor to play Armstrong.