“Heart of a Lion,” an upcoming biography film about the life of George Foreman, has added some notable names to the cast list. According to Deadline, Lawrence Gilliard Jr and Al Sapienza joined the film in unspecified roles.
Depending on how old you are, you’ll know Gilliard Jr as D’Angelo Barksdale from HBO’s “The Wire,” Bobby Boucher’s kicker friend in “The Waterboy,” or a guy who had his zombie-bitten leg eaten by cannibals in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Sapienza has almost 300 acting credits to his name, but will always live in my heart as Mikey “Grab Bag” Palmice from HBO’s “The Sopranos.”
Foreman is, of course, a novelty grill salesman and TV sitcom star. But, boxing fans may also remember him as a two time heavyweight champion and Olympic hero.
Foreman (76-5, 68 KO) rose to fame as a boxer with a gold medal winning performance in the heavyweight division of the 1968 Olympics, and later as a professional through 2nd round knockouts over fellow heavyweight legends Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. Foreman lost to Muhammad Ali in the “Rumble in the Jungle,” falling by 8th round KO to Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy.
Foreman left the sport for almost 10 years, working as a minister and opening a youth center in Houston, Texas. He resumed boxing professionally in 1987, and in 1994 defeated IBF and WBA champion Michael Moorer to become the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history at the age of 45.
Foreman will be portrayed by Khris Davis from “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Muhammad Ali is also a character in the film, portrayed by Sullivan Jones. Anyone with a wife that makes them watch HBO’s “The Gilded Age” with her will recognize Jones from that show as newspaper editor T. Thomas Fortune.
The film will release under the AFFIRM Films banner, an evangelical Christian-themed faith-based boutique arm of Sony Pictures. AFFIRM Films rose to prominence in 2008 through “Fireproof,” a feature length infomercial for the director and writers’ marital self-help book/Kirk Cameron-led film about an onanistic firefighter.
“Heart of a Lion” is overseen by director George Tillman Jr (Barbershop, Notorious), and scheduled for theatrical release on April 7, 2023.