Last summer when I talked to Mark Wahlberg at Comic Con, he said The Fighter wasn’t dead, just struggling. That’s the movie where Wahlberg would play Boston boxer ‘Irish’ Mickey Ward for director Darren Aronofsky. But schedules and financing never quite came together.
First Matt Damon, then Brad Pitt signed on (his second signing with Aronofsky) to play Ward’s trainer/boxer/thief brother. Then Pitt dropped out. (His second Aronofsky dropout.) That nailed the movie shut for a while. Which seemed frustrating for Wahlberg, who said that he’d been training for the role for two years. Months ago we heard that locations had been scouted and that a production office was set up in Boston, and then nothing.
Fast-forward to now and the movie is happening again, but with a much-changed creative team. Aronofsky has been replaced by David O. Russell, who is considering offers for films coming from left and right. This team makes sense, though, as it’ll be the third Wahlberg/Russell pairing after Three Kings and I (Heart) Huckabees. And conflict? Yeah, Russell can do conflict.
(Just earlier today I was talking about how I was having trouble working up enthusiasm for The Lovely Bones, based in part on recent stains on Wahlberg’s resume. This is throwing that in my face.)
In the role once held by Damon and Pitt is the smiliest actor in the game: Christian Bale. And holy shit, this could be the movie where Bale’s dour streak is broken. Dicky Eklund, Mickey Ward’s half-brother, was serving 10 to 15 in the state pen when he reformed, became a model prisoner and got out in time to shepherd his brother back to boxing glory. Cue shots of Bale shouting and elated at ringside, pretending he knows how to act like Burt Young.
The question is, then: what’s Aronofsky doing now? There’d been the assumption that he was still on The Fighter, especially when we heard about production offices gearing up in Boston and/or Lowell. There’s the RoboCop remake which should be next, though I’d almost rather see that Noah’s Ark movie. Who am I kidding? Aronofsky on RoboCop still sounds fantastic.