Cannes: Bruce Willis to Play Mike Tyson's Boxing Trainer in 'Cornerman'

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Bruce Willis

The film marks the feature-length directorial debut for 'Homeland' star Rupert Friend.

Bruce Willis is getting in the ring. Well, the corner of the ring. 

The Die Hard star is set to play legendary boxing trainer Constantine "Cus" D'Amato in Cornerman, written and to be directed by Homeland and The Death of Stalin star Rupert Friend in his feature-length directorial debut.

Friend and Aimee Mullins for Circus Florist Films produce alongside Marc Butan and Ara Keshishian of MadRiver Pictures. CAA is handling U.S. rights for the film, and IMR International will begin foreign sales in Cannes this week.

Cornerman will tell the story of how D'Amato, an International Boxing Hall of Fame member who worked with the likes of Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres, was introduced to a 13-year old Mike Tyson after having reluctantly retired as a boxing coach. After moving to the Catskills region of New York, where he ran a small gym with his long-term partner Camille, a friend dropped by with Tyson, who was getting into trouble with his fists, displaying raw but incredibly powerful talent. Seeing his extraordinary potential, D'Amato enrolled him in his gym and welcomed him in his home, determined to turn the mercurial hothead into a world champion.

D'Amato died in 1985, a little over a year before Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight titleholder in history at the age of 20 years and 4 months.

Producers will begin a worldwide search for the actor who will portray Tyson.

"Ultimately, this is a story about a deep love between two ferocious talents, each brave enough to admit their fears to the other, and so spur one another to greatness," said Friend. "It is a story about fighting for what you believe in, and a film that will make you question what strength really is."

Willis is represented by CAA. Friend is represented by CAA and 42. 

A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 8 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival. Click here to download.