From the Irish drama What Richard Did to the oddball music comedy Frank (which I just watched for about the millionth time and still love) to this year's potential Oscar contender, Room, Lenny Abrahamson is a hard director to keep track of. And now as he's lining up his next project it turns out to be another unexpected choice, a biopic on controversial boxer, Emile Griffith.
Abrahamson has optioned the rights to Donald McRae’s book, A Man's World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith, with plans to make it his next film. Griffith was a former welterweight champion and closeted bisexual, which as you can imagine would have been impossible for him to admit while in a tough-guy sport like boxing. He's most famous for his 1962 bout against frequent rival Benny Paret, who had previously taunted him by grabbing his butt and calling him a derogatory term for gay. Griffith nearly beat the crap out of him then, but was held in check. During their live televised match, Griffith beat Paret so severely that he would die of the injuries ten days later. The guilt Griffith felt over Paret's death would haunt him for decades.
It will be interesting to see what approach Abrahamson takes to the material, but he seems to be a filmmaker interested in the idea of duality. In Frank you had a character who lived under a giant fake head, but was also a creative genius. Room dealt with two people who lived one life trapped on the inside, but became very different once allowed out into the real world. This could be a great role for whoever lands it, and hopefully we'll start hearing about casting soon.