EXCLUSIVE: Writer David P. Davis talks Frank Bruno movie plans

Frank Bruno

British boxing great Frank Bruno is set to have his life story hit the big screen after work began on a script with the view to shooting a movie about the former world heavyweight champion in 2017.

David P Davis, known for his work with the BBC on Doctor Who, Merlin, Holby City, and Casualty, is in the midst of putting the story together, alongside Bruno, and recently updated WBN on where the production of the film currently lies.

Bruno, 54, is one of the most loved and iconic boxers the UK has ever produced but has publicly struggled to transition to normal life following the end of his 45-fight career back in 1996.

The Londoner famously claimed the top division title at the fourth attempt in 1995 when beating Oliver McCall on points at Wembley Stadium, having previously failed against Tim Witherspoon, Mike Tyson, and compatriot Lennox Lewis.

A regular on mainstream TV in the 1980s and 1990’s, Bruno became a household name and even had his own ‘Know what I mean ‘Arry’ catchphrase from his famous double act with respected UK commentator Harry Carpenter.

As Davis seeks a boost for the film on Kickstarter, the writer outlined how the high-profile project came about.

“I was working on another project at The Screen Arts Institute based at the British Film Institute, and Frank’s PA got in touch with me. They wanted someone like me who could do the story of such a British Boxing Legend – like Frank, justice,” Davis exclusively told World Boxing News.

“We’ve been speaking about the project since the beginning of the year, and It’s an ongoing process, but Frank has led such an interesting and inspirational life.

Boxing Frank Bruno
Lawrence Lustig

“The script is not done, but I’m working on it with the help of The Screen Arts Institute based at the BFI. This is a boxing film like Rocky, but it’s also a biopic about a great man who’s led an even greater life, and I want the script to do him justice.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with Frank, and he’s such a great guy that I really don’t want to let him down.

“We wanted to shoot in 2017, but we’ve got to get the thing funded first, so we opted to do a Kickstarter campaign to garner as much public interest as possible, but we’d listen to anyone who wants to collaborate with us as we’ve got such a cracking story that has to be told!”

Although in the works, Davis admits the as-yet-untitled Bruno movie has a long way to go, although he’s hopeful there will be enough interest generated to see it across the finish line. His main concern right now is getting a script done that he is happy with.

“In truth, I may never finish it; a script, much like a great work of art, is never done, but the SAI at the BFI will let me know when it’s ready to be shot – even if I’m not happy – which I probably won’t be because I’m a bit of a perfectionist… or is that obnoxious? – I always get those two words confused.”

On the actual story and where he wants to take it, Davis added: “It’s a story of his life and being diagnosed with Bipolar is very much a part of Frank’s life story. This film aims to reflect all aspects of him accurately. My one true hope is that it makes you laugh, cry, and cheer in equal measure.”

7dub – Instagram

Hollywood superstar Idris Elba has already been linked to playing Bruno once shooting does get underway, and Davis, like most of us, believes the talented ‘Luther’ and ‘Thor’ star would be perfect for the role.

“Idris is another British Icon. Who wouldn’t want him to play Frank? I mean c’mon, Stringer Bell and Frank Bruno are basically the same people! Okay, obviously they are nothing alike, but Idris is still one cool customer,” he pointed out.

Asked whether his script included room for a sequel and what characters would be central to production, Davis confirmed that the likes of Tyson, Lewis, and Carpenter would feature in some capacity.

“A sequel? Well, let’s get this one made, and then we can think about another one!

“But in answer to your question, Frank’s life is such a storied one that no movie could contain it all, but we hope that this one features all the moments his fans want to see… and some moments they didn’t even know existed, but will still love!

“Plus, you can’t tell the Bruno story without featuring Tyson and Lewis, but that’s all I can say right now.

“In regards to Harry Carpenter, I’m not sure this question needs an answer; ‘Know what I mean ‘Arry?’”

FRANK BRUNO MOVIE SYNOPSIS

The adrenaline of ‘Rocky’ mixed with the heart of ‘The Theory of Everything’ … ‘Frank Bruno’ is a biopic to rival all others…

Frank Bruno is an international boxing legend and a bona fide Black British icon. His life is a storied one. He started boxing at the age of 11.

Bruno won the Amateur Boxing Championship at 18… He was at the height of his career when the world’s eyes were on the ring.

He fought Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and beat Oliver McCall for the WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Perhaps the fight outside of the ring has been his hardest battle, and that is his battle with mental illness.

In 2003 Frank Bruno was sectioned for the first time and diagnosed with Bipolar. Since then, he has had to battle with his own mind, and it is a battle he is winning.

From the first time, this film charts it all from the first time he put on his gloves to his storied friendship with notorious firm member Cass Pennant.

His World Title win, his sectioning, and everything in between.

This feature film biopic looks at the rise, fall, and rise again of one of Britain’s most-loved sports stars and personalities.

Focusing on the day he was first sectioned, we will look back over his life and fall in love with him all over again.

But seeing how he has coped with his Bipolar disorder will make us love him even more.

Phil Jay is the Editor of WBN. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay.