We’ve had our eye on the “Borg/McEnroe” movie, starring Shia LeBeouf as legendary American tennis player John McEnroe during his rivalry with Swedish star Bjorn Borg, for more than a year. It was October 2016 when photos of LeBeouf portraying McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Bjorn Borg first circulated.
During the five months prior to that, LeBeouf and McEnroe spoke about the project in separate interviews. McEnroe didn’t have high hopes for the film, especially considering that producers and director Janus Metz Pedersen hadn’t spoken to him.
Since then, there hadn’t been too much movement on having Borg/McEnroe shown in the United States. Nearly a year ago, a teaser trailer was released, one that was clearly geared toward international audiences — perhaps thinking that there would be more interest in European countries.
But we’ll finally get a chance to see the now-retitled Borg vs. McEnroe (which better conveys the idea of a rivalry and the striking differences between the two athletes) this spring. The movie is set for an April 13 theatrical release and will be simultaneously available on demand.
Check out the new trailer for the U.S. release:
LeBeouf likely isn’t the first person that comes to mind when thinking of actors who could play John McEnroe. He’s now doing press to promote the film and probably won’t win over any tennis fans with remarks such as those that he made in an interview with Esquire:
“I have no interest in tennis. Zero. I only hate it more since having done this film. It’s an elitist sport.”
Based on the trailer, however, he does seem to capture McEnroe’s intensity, temperament and combativeness with officials and media. The emphasis is on the very different approaches that McEnroe and Borg took in their preparations for matches and their off-court lifestyles. Borg is portrayed as a tennis robot, while McEnroe is all work hard/play hard energy.
Important to the rivalry, which was called “Fire and Ice” (probably not a good title for the movie), is that McEnroe was viewed as the upstart, the challenger to the Borg supremacy. Going into their match in the 1980 Wimbledon final, Borg had won four consecutive Wimbledon titles. And McEnroe was perceived as a villain, the proverbial ugly American, after clashing with officials during his semifinal versus Jimmy Connors.
Borg/McEnroe premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to mixed reviews, though even critics who didn’t like the film praised LeBeouf’s performance. That may have stalled a U.S. release, while the movie played in the U.K., Sweden, Norway and Germany to build some buzz.
But April is probably a good time to put this movie out, before the French Open begins in late May. We don’t yet know how wide the theatrical release will be (Neon, the distributor for the movie, was very slow and cautious with the rollout of I, Tonya, for example), but everyone who wants to see the film should get a chance through on demand beginning April 13.