Proof That God Loves Us: Shia LeBeouf Will Play John McEnroe In ‘Borg vs. McEnroe’
Over the weekend it was announced that Shia LeBeouf has signed on to play tennis legend John McEnroe in the upcoming film Borg vs. McEnroe, based on the 1980 Wimbledon final between the American and the Swedish Bjorn Borg.
For those of you who are not familiar, the rivalry between the two tennis stars was particularly compelling due to their contrasting personalities. Borg had a reputation for being icy and emotionless while McEnroe was easily enraged and known for his courtside tantrums. Their meeting in McEnroe's first Wimbledon final in 1980 is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever.
First of all, as sports fans we should always celebrate the promise of a good sports movie in our future. They are few and far between, but as someone who has memorized every line of dialogue in Miracle, I can attest that there is almost nothing more entertaining than when Hollywood gets it right in its glamorization of an epic sports story.
So there's that. There's also the fact that the casting of LeBeouf might be the best casting decision in a major sports film since Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans. Because the thing is, sometimes the most obvious choice is the best and only choice. Not casting Denzel as the tough-love, badass coach of the first integrated high school football team would've been the film casting equivalent of sitting a healthy Steph Curry in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
It's clear that director Janus Metz Pederson agrees with this sentiment because I dare you to name one person more equipped to play McEnroe than beloved nutball Shia LeBeouf. In November, after LeBeouf held a three-day nonstop screening of every movie he's ever made - and live streamed himself during the viewing - it became clear that LeBeouf is no ordinary weirdo. He's exceptional.
LeBeouf's acute, perhaps gratuitous level of self-awareness is eclipsed only by his legitimate need to break social norms and challenge established conventions; whether they need challenging or not. It doesn't hurt that he also really likes to party, which results in stories like this saga he recounts to Jimmy Kimmel in which he gets drunk alone at a Manhattan bar and ends up smacking Alan Cumming's ass at a Broadway performance of 'Cabaret' before eventually being arrested.
The internet has accurately assessed that LeBeouf is the effortless embodiment of everything that James Franco has unsuccessfully tried to be for the last fifteen years; a tortured, interesting talent with the rash boldness of someone who sincerely has a screw loose.
McEnroe was a hot-headed, volatile superstar who happened to be incredibly good at tennis, and LeBeouf is a hot-headed, volatile superstar who happens to be incredibly good at acting. It's truly a match made in heaven (no pun intended.) Furthermore, the film will also star the relatively unknown Sverrir Gudnason as Borg and Stellan Skarsgaard as Borgs coach; because again, of course Skarsgaard should have that role. It's also incredibly smart of Pederson to cast a Swedish actor opposite the larger-than-life LeBeouf as it really mirrors the original real-life contrast between McEnroe and Borg.
I'm admittedly not a huge tennis fan (just a casual one), but I'm incredibly excited for this film; if only because I'm very curious about what happens to a method actor who is forced to spend months personifying John effing McEnroe.
Team LeBeouf Forever.
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