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David Harewood, the British star of TV shows such as The Night Manager, Homeland and Supergirl, is set to make his directorial debut with boxing biopic For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The feature — which comes from Fulwell 73, the James Corden-backed production banner behind The Late, Late Show and Cinderella — will chart the legendary rivalry between two of Britain’s most famous boxers, Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn. Set in the 1990s, the film follows the fighters’ fierce opposition, culminating with their infamous battle for the WBO middleweight title, a fight that defined their individual careers and was hailed as one of the greatest clashes to ever take place on British soil.
Alongside this sporting showdown, For Whom the Bell Tolls will also explore the personal lives of Eubank and Benn and the challenges both faced outside of the ring, grappling with their own identities as they were pitted against each other on a global stage and exploring themes of black masculinity as they emerged into the public eye against a backdrop of systemic racism.
The film will add another hyphen for Harewood, who alongside his TV and film work has been a driving force for systematic and cultural change through his documentaries, such as David Harewood: Psychosis and Me, which explored his battle with mental health in his 20s. He also contributed to documentaries like Black Is the New Black, Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? and Why Is Covid Killing People of Color?, which highlighted injustices around the world. His first memoir Maybe I Don’t Belong Here was highly acclaimed and is already being used as a mental health resource nationwide.
“I’m delighted to be at the helm of this fantastic project. It’s an exceptional script and I was drawn to it immediately as it covers many of the themes I have explored in my documentaries and so fundamentally in my book – that of Black British male identities and the unique struggle to find a sense of balance and belonging,” said Harewood. “As a result, it feels like the perfect time for me to direct this, my first feature film. As a boxing fan and someone who watched both titanic fights live, uncovering the personal and private stories behind those epic battles has been revelatory and I cannot wait to bring their stories to the screen.”
Fulwell 73’s Leo Pearlman and Heather Greenwood are producers on the project, which is set to start filming in 2022. For Whom The Bell Tolls was co-written by Daniel Harris, the sports writer and author of On The Road and The Promised Land, who also serves as an executive producer, Belinda Joanne Ampah and Kieron Hawkes, who previously wrote and directed Piggy, also produced by Fulwell 73.
For Whom The Bell Tolls will also feature in the main strand of Film London’s Production Finance Market (PFM), connecting filmmakers and financiers from across the globe and taking place virtually Oct. 12 and 13. The event is being held during the BFI London Film Festival.
“Benn vs. Eubank is one of the most epic rivalries in sporting history,” said Fulwell 73 partner Pearlman. “But as well as great athletes, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank are two of the most compelling and unique characters in British sport, both with incredible personal stories to tell.”
Harewood is repped by APA, Authentic, and Conway van Gelder Grant.
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