Ashley Walters and Anthony Mackie are both reportedly “in talks” to play England’s first black soccer star, Laurie Cunningham, in a movie about his life.
A biopic on the life of Cunningham, has been in the works since 2010, when it was first announced.
For those unfamiliar with Cunningham, he was the first black soccer player to represent England competitively at any level, with his professional career running from the late 70s, through the late 80s. Known for playing and living with flair, he also very publicly, unabashedly romanced a white woman, which, at the time, greatly annoyed fans of the sport. Cunningham was also the first English (and black) player to play for Spanish soccer superstars Real Madrid. He died in a car crash in Madrid, in 1989, at just 33 years old. His death was ruled an accident, but some believe he was murdered.
Along with 2 other black footballers at the time (1978/79), Cyrille Regis and Brendan Batson, labeled by their then manager as the Three Degrees, the trio had quite an impact on English football.
Now it looks like either Ashley Walters or Anthony Mackie will be starring in the film, as it’s being reported by UK media outlets.
Producer Leo Pearlman told said: ”We have spoken to Ashley Walters about the project and we have also been contacted by Anthony Mackie.
”Those are the two that we’ve been speaking to about playing Laurie and we will be making a decision further down the line. We have James Corden as our headline act and other roles are up for grabs.”
Leo will produce the film with Fulwell 73, the production company behind a documentary on Cunningham’s life, First Among Equals: The Laurie Cunningham Stor‘, which aired on ITV in the UK last night.
Black Flash, as the film was previously called, was being penned by Bafta-nominated TV scriptwriter Kwame Kwei-Armah (born in Ian Roberts, in London, but changed his name after tracing his family’s back to West Africa).
It’s not known whether the film will retain that title, and if Kwei-Armah is still the writer.