The Bridget Jones's Diary star admits her directorial debut was never planned, and she had initially envisaged producing and starring in the script by writer Anthony Tambakis.
But after the project failed to draw investors and directors to the movie, Zellweger decided to step up to the role, and she is delighted with the project's progress.
She tells The Hollywood Reporter, "Anthony sent the script to me last year, asking thoughts and whether I'd partner with him to produce it. I'm such a fan of his writing... he has an ability to capture worlds with remarkable compassion, humour and intimacy and the truth of his characters' humanity is felt in every line.
"I asked him if he'd consider my producing and playing PJ. By the new year, the effort to get the film financed had fizzled. I couldn't get the script out of my head, but we didn't have a director and weren't making any headway.
"During a work session for (new TV drama) Cinnamon Girl in early 2012, I brought up 4 1/2 Minutes again, Anthony suggested I direct, and it all started rolling from there."
Since kicking off her career in the early '90s, Renée Zellweger has been a largely polarizing actress: some love her, some... not so much. Even in some of her more universally acclaimed movies, like Jerry Maguire and Chicago, Zellweger has faced adversity for her performances. With this dichotomy of opinion, Zellweger is sure to earn some interesting reactions with her new project 4 1/2 Minutes, the actress' directorial debut.
The project, announced at the Toronto International Film Festival, and reported by Deadline, will star Zellweger and Johnny Knoxville in a story about a standup comedian (the Jackass headliner) whose life and career are significantly affected by the presence of the single mom (Zellweger) of a young genius. One can find a few similarities between this story and that of Jerry Maguire, the film that launched Zellweger to fame.
The script, written by Anthony Tambakis (Warrior), is reportedly based on the life of New Jersey-born comedian/actor Dov Davidoff.
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The Bridget Jones's Diary beauty will direct and star in 4 1/2 minutes, which follows Knoxville as a single comedian whose life begins to fall apart when he takes on a babysitting job, looking after Zellweger's genius son.
The project, based on real-life funnyman Dov Davidoff's past, will re-team the actress with writer Anthony Tambakis, who also penned her new TV drama Cinnamon Girl and the script to her upcoming Broadway adaptation of The Hustler.
Filming is set to begin in New York City in February (12), according to Deadline.com.
Renee Zellweger's new drama about four girls growing up in late 1960s Los Angeles has been picked up by bosses at U.S. cable network Lifetime. The actress co-wrote Cinnamon Girl with Warrior screenwriter Anthony Tambakis.
Gavin O’Connor’s (Miracle Pride and Glory) stirring new drama Warrior is an underdog tale set in the nascent sport of Mixed Martial Arts fighting. In its relatively short life MMA has yet to inspire much quality cinema of note. It now has its Rocky.
Warrior’s twist on the traditional underdog formula is to provide us with dual protagonists: the fightin’ Conlon brothers Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy). Neither have spoken to each other since the dissolution of the parents’ marriage fourteen years earlier. Both of late have fallen on hard times. Tommy is an Iraq war veteran who has turned to pills and booze since returning from abroad; Brendan is a high school science teacher and devoted family man victimized by the financial crisis. Circumstances compel them both to seek salvation in the fight game.
Conveniently enough the opportunity of a lifetime arrives in the form of Sparta a brand-new winner-take-all MMA tournament that awards its champion a cool $5 million – more than enough for Brendan to save his house from foreclosure or for Tommy to make good on his pledge to provide for the family of a friend killed in Iraq. By this point we know for certain that fate has determined Brendan and Tommy will meet in the final and we know for certain how utterly ridiculous this scenario is. And yet we accept it because by this point Warrior already has us in its corner.
The origins of the brothers’ enmity are ultimately traced to their father Paddy (Nick Nolte) a monstrous alcoholic whose abusiveness led their mother and Tommy to flee fourteen years prior. Brendan stayed behind and Tommy never forgave him for it. When we see Paddy he’s broken-down husk of a man God-fearing and 1000 days sober his face creased with shame and regret. Neither son can stand the sight of their old man but Tommy in need of someone to train him for the tournament reluctantly enlists his father’s help. Paddy eyeing a last chance at redemption enthusiastically complies.
Cue the training montage. A fighter rising from obscurity to the upper echelons in his sport within a matter of weeks is hard to swallow; when two fighters do it it’s a borderline insult to the sport. MMA aficionados might blanch at watching Tommy and Brendan gain one unlikely win after another; more likely they’ll be too absorbed by the action to care. It helps that Hardy and Edgerton both look the part and are both skilled enough at their craft to lend the film’s many brutal fight scenes a distinct realism. It helps even more that the story and the actors' stellar performances have us firmly aligned with their goals.
O’Conner a veteran of the genre deploys the underdog tropes at his disposal freely but assiduously crafting a tale that is unabashedly far-fetched but grounded in characters who are intensely appealing and who feel authentic. The storytelling is clumsy at times – that Nolte’s character listens to a book-on-tape of Moby Dick throughout the film feels particularly heavy-handed – but Warrior wisely steers clear of bombastic speeches or cloying sentiment.
Warrior’s climactic final fight in which the estranged brothers at last meet in the ring is both gut- and heart-wrenching. When the film’s suitably happy ending does eventually arrive the film gives way ever-so-briefly to hokeyness. But after what these kids have gone through you can forgive them for getting a little emotional.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
A total knockout as a piece of well-made B-movie grit Fighting focuses on two men living on separate edges of society who come together to make a killing in the forbidden world of bare-knuckle fighting. When con man Harvey Boarden spots raw street-fighting talent in the form of small-town dude Shawn MacArthur the two team up by entering Shawn in the potentially lucrative underground circuit a place where rich men bet on young brawlers who battle like pit bulls unleashed. With success comes complications however and Shawn ends up fighting not only for money but his whole future — which suddenly is very much at stake.
WHO’S IN IT?
Rising young heartthrob Channing Tatum’s (Step Up) raw star power blasts through the screen as Shawn a role that thankfully calls for more complexity than just acting with his fists. Opposite Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard’s (Hustle & Flow) Harvey he steps up his game and the two play off each other with ease searching for ways to lift what is basically an action vehicle into something more emotionally involving and Rocky-esque. Certainly the highlights are still the intense and brutal fight sequences but because Tatum invests more than just one note into his portrayal of a guy trying to work his way up from the streets into a better life we are behind him all the way. In a case of a Zulay playing another Zulay Zulay Henao is sweet and appealing as a girl Shawn starts dating between bouts while Brian White is menacing and slippery as Evan Hailey a key rival and protégé of Shawn’s own estranged father. Also of note is Altagracia Guzman who has a couple of very funny scenes as Zulay’s disapproving grandmother.
The heart-stopping realism of the bare-knuckle fighting is refreshingly free of cinematic trickery and CGI assistance. It’s raw and packs real punch particularly during a sequence in which Shawn faces a formidable martial arts opponent but also in the climactic bout with Hailey. And fortunately there are some nice twists along the way that keep this flick from drifting into complete predictability. Director Dito Montiel who previously made the Sundance award-winner A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (also with Tatum) knows the New York street scene well.
Although richly entertaining the film could have benefitted from a deeper look into this forbidden world of underground human fighting which hasn’t been explored much on-screen beyond the very unique take of David Fincher’s acerbic Fight Club.
Aside from the powerful fisticuffs on constant display it has to be Shawn’s first encounter with Zulay’s grandmother when he arrives unannounced for dinner. It’s priceless stuff serving to humanize him and ramp his score way up on the likeability meter.
Give credit to the filmmakers for the simplicity of the name. Fighting tells you everything you need to know.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Multiplex. Like any boxing match it’s more fun to watch with a crowd.