Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is reportedly in negotiations to play disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong in a Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen) directed biopic, one of several such films in development (not to mention the documentary we reported on earlier this week). Warner Bros. and Paramount are working on similar projects.
The Frears pic, which is being produced by Working Title, would apparently open with Armstrong’s fight against testicular cancer in the mid- to late-90s and run through his recent doping admission.
The irony here (lost on anyone who isn’t familiar with professional cycling) is that Foster is a dead ringer for longtime Lance Armstrong teammate Levi Leipheimer, albeit with a little more hair. Leipheimer was also disciplined for performance-enhancing drug use in 2012, and his testimony to the U.S. Anti-Doping Administration was part of what led to Armstrong’s eventual downfall. While it’s likely Leipheimer will appear in the film in some capacity, it’s too early to know if he’ll be a figure recognizable from the rest of Armstrong’s U.S. Postal teammates.
With all the Armstrong biopics, it will be interesting to see how much screen time is devoted to each portion of Armstrong’s career. The Working Title film (none of the films have names as of yet) would seem to skip his early (pre-cancer) career, when a young Armstrong was a rising star first in triathlon, then later in professional cycling, even winning stages in the Tour de France, though never competing for the overall victory. Chief in the intrigue is how each picture will balance the groundswell of Armstrong celebrity at the time of his string of victories in the early 2000s with the evidence now come to light of his highly aggressive efforts to both encourage doping within his team and keep his own blood doping efforts unknown to the public. Essentially, each film will be presented with the choice of reflecting Armstrong’s public image over time, or cutting to what we now know was actually occurring.
No word yet on the start of production or a release date, but we’ll keep you updated as details become available.