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Shiloh Fernandez will portray Johnny Tapia in Johnny, a biopic on the five-time world champion boxer.
Eddie Alcazar is directing the indie and co-writing the script with Bettina Gilois. Anonymous Content is producing the film, which is based on true events of Tapia’s early years.
Tapia’s life had a streak of tragedy even as he fought to stand his ground against what life threw at him. His father was murdered while Tapia was still in the womb, and his mother was kidnapped, raped and murdered when he was 8. The childhood traumas led to a life of drug addiction. When he was 40, Tapia suffered an overdose from cocaine abuse, and his brother-in-law and nephew were killed in a car accident on the way to the hospital.
Tapia began boxing at age 9 and became a star in the late 1990s, winning titles including the WBO super flyweight and WBO bantamweight.
Johnny already was in development for months before the fighter’s death May 27. The producers plan to begin filming in 2013.
Fernandez might be best known for starring with Amanda Seyfried in 2011’s Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The actor, who appeared in TV’s Jericho and United States of Tara, is also one of the stars of the upcoming remake of The Evil Dead.
He is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment.