The Real “ROCKY” Balboa Story In CHUCK Trailer
“SOMETIMES LIFE IS LIKE A MOVIE. SOMETIMES IT’S BETTER”
Watch the trailer for the upcoming movie CHUCK – we can’t wait for this one! In theaters May 5th.
Directed by Philippe Falardeau, CHUCK stars Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Elisabeth Moss, Liev Schreiber, Jim Gaffigan, and Morgan Spector.
He was the pride of Bayonne, New Jersey, a man who went fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali, and the real life inspiration for Rocky Balboa. But before all that, Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was a liquor salesman and father with a modest prizefighting career whose life changed overnight when, in 1975, he was chosen to take on The Greatest in a highly publicized title match.
It’s the beginning of a wild ride through the exhilarating highs and humbling lows of sudden fame—but what happens when your fifteen minutes in the spotlight are up?
Driven by a committed performance from Liev Schreiber, CHUCK is a refreshingly human tale of resilience and redemption. Elisabeth Moss and Naomi Watts costar.
It was 1974, and Chuck Wepner was the heavyweight champion of New Jersey. When he wasn’t in the ring, Wepner sold liquor on the mean streets of Jersey – and sometimes Chuck’s unique skill set with his fists proved useful for a little work on the side to pick up extra cash.
Known as the Bayonne Bleeder – being a competitive fighter at this level wasn’t quite what you’d call ‘glamorous’, but everyone has a dream, and Chuck’s was to get a shot at the title. As a boxer, Wepner wasn’t exactly known for his big punch, but more so for his spirit, big heart, and his tenacity to withstand a beating and come back for more. He was once pummeled so badly by Sonny Liston that he suffered a broken nose and cheekbone, ultimately taking a total of 120 stitches to put him back together, and leaving him mulling retirement. However, Wepner quickly recovered and got back in the ring.
The only thing more frightening than not getting what you want is actually getting it. After racking up an impressive string of eight wins, Wepner rose from obscurity and got his big shot to fight against Ali. He was determined to go the distance.
Having been the underdog, for the first time in his career Wepner was paid enough to train full-time. To everyone’s surprise, he became the first man in boxing history to knock Ali to the canvas while he was defending the title. Enraged, Ali rose to his feet and pummeled Wepner unmercifully, ending the fight 19 seconds into the 15th round.
While Wepner and Ali went glove to glove in Cleveland on that historical evening, a hungry young actor named Sylvester Stallone watched the fight on closed circuit TV, and inspiringly wrote a screenplay about a nobody boxer named Rocky Balboa, who receives a million-to-one opportunity to fight for the heavyweight title.
Chuck initially thought he was famous after surviving 15 rounds with Ali, but that was nothing compared to when Rocky came out. Wepner quickly attained genuine hero status as the real-life inspiration for Stallone’s script. Wepner was anointed King of the Jersey shore and was just as big of a star as if he had knocked out Ali.
However, just when Wepner thought he was invincible, life set him up for the ultimate K.O.
The aftermath of that fight triggered a series of events and numerous legal struggles that led to Wepner grasping to stay in the limelight. Ultimately, these obstacles led to sobriety and redemption after serving five years in prison for cocaine possession. After doing his time, Chuck found something, or rather someone more important – his second wife, Linda, who was there to catch his fall and help him get back on his feet.
Mike Tollin and Jeff Feuerzeig acquired the rights to Wepner’s life story a decade ago and soon after, Schreiber was approached about the project: “A few years ago, Mike Tollin, brought me the documentary film about Chuck Wepner that they had made with Jeff Feuerzeig called The Real Rocky, which ESPN aired in 2011.” Actor/producer Schreiber shared, “They told me that they wanted to develop that documentary into a movie script. I loved the story, and I love boxing, so I told Mike that I was willing to see how things would develop.”
Liev Schreiber, a lifelong aficionado of the ‘sweet science’, realized his dream of playing Wepner, the New Jersey liquor salesman and heavyweight fighter who, at age 35, got a chance to fight Muhammad Ali right after he had shocked the world by regaining his title against a seemingly invincible George Foreman in ‘The Rumble in The Jungle’ in Zaire.
CHUCK is as much about Wepner trying to deal with sudden fame as the ultimate underdog as it is about that epic fight 40 years ago when a journeyman brawler, against all odds, shocked the world. “It wasn’t just a straight ahead fight film,” Schreiber elaborates on what the exact story elements were that attracted him to the material. “I think that there’s a theme in a lot of boxing movies about people who come from violent pasts or who are angry at the world, and here we have a man with a genuine sweetness to him. That sort of character really intrigued me.”
“This is not a boxing movie, per se. It’s a rise and fall story and redemption story. It defies our expectations,” says producer Lati Grobman. “We have lots of projects that come to us, and we read a lot of scripts but when we got CHUCK, Crista and I got excited.”
“I loved the idea about somebody who was willing to put himself through incredible physical punishment because he loved his audience so much,” shares Schreiber. “He fought for his fans, and he fought for recognition. And that aspect of the fight game was something that I had never seen a movie about. I just thought there’s something about the character that touched me. I saw Wepner’s story as a little bit of an identity crisis and a little bit of a narcissist’s tale, but it was interesting stuff.”