Last week, Dave Meltzer, owner of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (W.O.N.) revived a long-held rumor that actor Liev Schreiber would be playing the late Chris Benoit in the movie, Crossface.
For those unfamiliar, Benoit was an esteemed pro wrestler who murdered his wife and young son before committing suicide in 2007. Crossface was the name of a submission wrestling maneuver that Mr. Benoit was famous for using. He was also alleged to use the move when killing family members.
The script for the film was written by Sarah Coulter, a former Weinstein Company employee, and adapted from the book Ring of Hell by Matthew Randazzo.
A producer named Dale Alexander Carnegie was attached to the proposed project and it was to be made under the SRG Films banner.
News and rumors of the supposed project surfaced in 2011 then 2013.
Then news broke that Mr. Schreiber was not attached to the project seemingly tanked further news and developments.
Until now, when Mr. Meltzer mentioned the project was on with Mr. Schreiber attached.
Anyhow, it’s been almost a week without any further mention of either confirmation and denial of the latest of the wrestling journalist’s assertion.
That’s weird because if it goes the way of yet another unsubstantiated rumor, that would be 2011, 2013 and 2015; every other year on odd numbered years.
I am not contending the story is fiction.
What I believe is that the concept’s likelihood of surviving to completion is highly unlikely.
Here are some of the reasons why:
Totally unsympathetic main character: For the majority of his relatively short life, Chris Benoit was a success story. What he lacked in height, he more than compensated for in bulk and work ethic.
He was largely revered everywhere he went. What he did in the final hours of his life instantly and permanently offset any good he worked to build.
Trying to sell his story to a distribution and marketing company will be an extremely difficult task.
Who is going to want to plunk down money to see his story when his final hours were covered ad nauseam by the 24/7 news media? To that end, many people feel like they already know all they need to know.
Further, what kind of outlet exists to promote or cross promote?
It sure isn’t professional wrestling.
Vince McMahon, the de facto dictator of the industry, has publicly disassociated himself and his company with Benoit.
Now, if someone were to come up with some sort of biopic proposal for recently deceased grappling stars like Dusty Rhodes or Roddy Piper, it might pique his interest but it’s not likely.
Any chronicle of his performers has been and will continue to be done by his company. In fact, their DVD productions are very-well done and quite successful.
Finally, no one associated with the McMahon oligarchy would risk fall out of favor by associating themselves with an unapproved venture.
Liev Schreiber is not likely to play Benoit for a number of reasons.
While the two men have a slight facial resemblance, they couldn’t be more dissimilar physically. Schreiber is six foot three and lanky while Benoit was somewhere between five foot seven or eight and build like a fire plug.
It would be foolish for the actor to risk injury to play a wrestler. Despite the time worn notion that it is “fake” (referring to the pre-determined outcomes)… pro wrestling is very physical and often dangerous.
Currently, Mr. Schreiber has two movies coming out (which require him to be available for promotional purposes) as well as a pending new season of his critically-acclaimed TV series, Ray Donovan.
To cover their backsides there most surely is an insurance policy as well as a contract to the TV series producers that require the actor to avoid participating in anything with a high degree of risk for physical injury.
That would enable the powers that be to nix the notion of his play a wrestler or anything dangerous.
The Crossface creators have little to no track record: This is a problem in attracting financing and distribution companies.
While Sarah Coulter, the screenwriter, worked for the Weinstein Company, according to her Linkedin profile, her work was as an administrative assistant. She has no known screenwriting credits.
The rumored director of Crossface, Vincente Amorim is an Austrian-born filmmaker who only has a few feature-film credits (many of which are for shorts) and he works largely in Brazil.
There is a supposed “head” of the company that is producing Crossface…SRG Films. It is Dale Alexander Carnegie. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com), he served as executive producer on one low-budget film in 2014.
As for SRG Films, they have no known track record.
To that end, the Crossface project is increasingly reminding me of the proposed Andre The Giant biopic, “Heart of A Giant” film that was on and then off and then names were attached then they weren’t.
It was eventually made (with every expense spared) and while looking over that completed film’s trailer, I started thinking that this might be the actual fate awaiting Crossface.
Take a look at that trailer below and let me know what you think:
If I were a betting man, I look for the latest Crossface rumor to go away quietly like it has done in the recent past.
***UPDATE***September 3, 2015
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter cites a producer who claims that Liev Schreiber is NOT involved with the film but the production is still going forward.