Sydney Sweeney Getting Into The Ring To Portray Trailblazing Boxer Christy Martin For Director David Michôd, Black Bear & Anonymous Content; Actress Is “Itching To Start Training” For Role – Cannes Market Hot Project

EXCLUSIVE: The in-demand Sydney Sweeney, coming off hit rom-com Anyone But You and horror pic Immaculate, is shifting gears again as she is set to portray trailblazing boxer Christy Martin in a new biopic which could be a knockout for buyers at the Cannes market where Black Bear will be launching.

Under the direction of Oz filmmaker David Michôd, known for visceral movies such as Animal Kingdom and The King, the currently untitled project will chart the true story of Martin’s rise to become America’s most well known female boxer in the 1990s — the “female Rocky” in the words of the film’s producers. A naturally gifted fighter, her life transformed in 1989 when she met her manager, and later husband, Jim Martin. Breaking boundaries, she became the first woman to sign with iconic promoter Don King, and the only female boxer to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her charisma, good looks and resilience in the ring won her an avid fanbase and propelled her to become welterweight champion. But behind the well-honed public persona, she tackled personal demons, toxic relationships, and a brutal attempt on her life.

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This is ripe material for Sweeney given the Euphoria and White Lotus star’s passion for boxing and MMA. The actress told Deadline: “I grappled and did kickboxing from 12-19 years old. I’ve been itching to get back into the ring, train, and transform my body. Christy’s story isn’t a light one, it’s physically and emotionally demanding, there’s a lot of weight to carry. But I love challenging myself.”

She continued: “Christy Martin not only legitimized female boxing, she overcame gender stereotypes, and fought through emotional, physical, and financial abuse. I’m passionate about the fighting world, Christy’s story shines a light on her incredible rise to the top while showing the struggles of fame behind the curtains. I feel compelled to tell a story about a woman who faced so much adversity and didn’t allow it to defeat her. It’s powerful, and emotional.”

Director Michôd told us: “I have a history of making movies about damaged men and I’d been wanting to make a film about a woman with a ferocious energy inside her. When I came across the Christy Martin story two years ago I knew I’d found it. Her ferocity is intelligible and justifiable and audiences will crave it because of the circumstances she was forced to endure”.

The plan is to shoot this fall in the U.S. Black Bear — which recently teamed with Sweeney on Immaculate — will introduce the project to international buyers at the Cannes market next week with UTA Independent Film Group, AC Independent, and Black Bear co-representing U.S. rights. Additional casting is being discussed by the team now.

This is a promising package in part because there is a level of discovery to the story. Michôd explained about the script’s arc: “The film is about Christy as a young gay woman in small-town West Virginia in the 1990s. She came from a relatively conservative family and wasn’t allowed to be who she was so she used boxing as a vehicle to express herself and her rage. She had to make some dangerous and fundamental compromises in her life, the most important of which was marrying an incredibly dangerous man.”

Script comes from Mirrah Foulkes (Judy & Punch) and Michôd. Producers are Kerry Kohansky-Roberts (Boy Erased) for Anonymous Content, Michôd for Yoki, Justin Lothrop and Brent Stiefel (As You Are) for Votiv, Sweeney for Fifty-Fifty Films and and Teddy Schwarzman for Black Bear, which is also fully financing. The filmmakers tell us that Martin, the film’s subject, has been collaborating with the team on the project.

“David [Michôd] and I have been saying that this is a female rocky”, said producer Kohansky-Roberts (whose father worked at SI his whole career). “To make the cover of Sports Illustrated was hard enough, to do it as a female boxer was outstanding and she paved the way for so many boxers and MMA fighters to come”.

“Sydney’s performance in Reality knocked my socks off,” adds Michôd. “She has been ferociously sporty since she was a kid and has a taste for the fight game.” The actress is in post on Ron Howard’s starry thriller Eden and Apple’s Echo Valley alongside Julianne Moore.

Michôd’s seminal 2010 crime-drama Animal Kingdom is one of the great Australian films of recent decades, starring Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jackie Weaver. Since then, the filmmaker has gone on to work with Robert Pattinson in The Rover, Brad Pitt in War Machine and most recently Timothée Chalamet in The King. He is in post on A24 and Plan B’s Wizards!

Executive producers include Michael Heimler, John Friedberg, Foulkes, Brad Zimmerman for Yoki, Inc. and David Levine, Ryan Schwartz and Nick Shumaker, who will executive produce on behalf of Anonymous Content.

Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman said: “Black Bear is beyond thrilled to reteam with Sydney Sweeney, who is one of the most exciting and talented actors working today. We’ve also wanted to work with David Michôd for some time, and this material perfectly compliments David’s incredible skillset. Christy Martin’s story is an epic, and our film will deliver everything audiences expect and much, much more. We’re excited to step in to finance the project and produce alongside our incredible partners.”

Sweeney is represented by Paradigm and Stuart Brookman. Michôd is represented by UTA, Alan Wertheimer and Jackoway Austen. Foulkes is represented by UTA, Untitled Entertainment, and Hirsch Wallerstein.

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