The buzz is feverish for upcoming Boxing Drama SOUTHPAW and Toronto was luckiest of all to host the official Canadian Premiere for the Film. In for the night were Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Hometown Sweetheart Rachel McAdams and a surprise appearance by Boxing Legend Lennox Lewis. Fans lined a specially set-up Fan Pit outside Scotiabank Theatre and quite a few were lucky to be on the receiving-end of graciousness from the Stars, but in all honesty, many were just happy to be in the presence of the A-List talent.
SOUTHPAW, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), tells the story of a Boxer named Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal), who has seen better days. At the urging of his wife Maureen (McAdams) and daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) to spend more time at home, he decides to retire. Upon receiving honours at his retirement gala, tragedy would strike – only the beginning of a downward spiral that would see him lose everything. With the help of a no-nonsense Trainer in Tick (Forest Whitaker), we see a former Champion on a valiant quest for redemption, to regain back what is his and any remnants of what he had left.
We had the opportunity to chat with McAdams, who looked absolutely stunning in pink Dior, and a dapper-suited Gyllenhaal. McAdams plays Maureen, a woman to fight for and Billy‘s reason to live again after she dies prematurely in Southpaw. I ask her about the Women in her life who are worth fighting for and she tells me, “My mom and my sister are at the top of my list. I used to be a figure skater, so definitely Elizabeth Manley.”. We wouldn’t expect a less patriotic answer from the proudly-Canadian Actress who chose consciously Toronto over Hollywood as her home.
I ask her about getting into Maureen‘s headspace and preparation required for the memorable role, which had her working out of Pittsburgh. “I got to spend a bit of time at facilities Billy and her would’ve grown up at” she explains, “I spent time with Boxers and the Boxers’ families and got to know the Sport and how much people give to it, the sacrifices they make and the difficult paths they take to get there.”.
McAdams filmed an intriguing Movie titled Spotlight in the City last Fall, just one of several she’s made in her native Toronto. She sheds some light on it, hinting “It likely will do the Festival Circuit maybe – but it’s not announced”. “It’s great to shoot here. Tom McCarthy (Director) is the best and I love him to bits”. She explains, “It’s an important story that hasn’t been told enough about the Church – a new side, which has an investigatory crew at The Boston Globe and there’s four of them. I got to play the one woman on the team.”. McAdams adds, “She’s just incredible and my hero – generous and gracious with her time, taking me under her wing.”. Spotlight is due in theatres this November, with a likelihood of premiering at TIFF ’15.
Although there wasn’t much time for Gyllenhaal to speak to Digital Media, we were able to sit-in on a couple questions he fielded about his role as Billy Hope and his new perspective on Professional Fighting since making Southpaw. “The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight – I was in rapture for the first four rounds”, he recalls. “Now I think ‘Ooh, what punch is thrown and who’s getting knocked-out.’. I’m watching technique and what the Trainer is up to.”. Gyllenhaal is devastatingly-good, transforming physically and mentally into Billy Hope completely for the Film, just one of a few great Films he’s made these past couple years. A Career Renaissance if you will.
With an inspired interest in Boxing, Gyllenhaal states, “When you become a fan of the Sport, you become a fan of the people in the Sport and it becomes about the story about the particular athlete.”. On his greatest inspiration building Billy‘s character he says, “My most motivating Fighter was Miguel Cotto. He’s so devoted to his family and been in the ring so many times. So many odd things have happened.”. “The Movie’s all about Family. He was my inspiration.”.
eOne Films release SOUTHPAW on Friday, July 24, 2015.