Shia LaBeouf to play tennis star John McEnroe

MoviesBy Sunday World
Shia LaBeouf to play tennis star John McEnroe

Shia LaBeouf will play John McEnroe in new biopic 'Borg/McEnroe'.

The 29-year-old actor - who found fame starring in the 'Transformers' franchise - will take on the task of depicting the American former World No. 1 tennis player in a movie about his epic rivalry with Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg.

Speaking at a press conference for his other forthcoming project 'American Honey' - in which he plays Jake, a dirt poor leader of an itinerant magazine sales crew - at the Cannes Film Festival, he cryptically explained how he relates to his characters and said: "Jake is me. So is McEnroe. That's it, man I understand these people, I empathise with them. I get it. You turn things up and turn things down. It's me."

LaBeouf added that although he doesn't play tennis, his backhand "is getting there" after he took up lessons.

The 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' star will be joined by Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason, who has been cast to Borg and Stellan Skarsgard, who will star as Borg's coach Lennart Bergelin.

The biopic was announced at Cannes in the South of France over the weekend by Swedish producers Film Vaest and will centre on the great tennis rivalry between the successful pair on and off the court, through the late 1970s and 1980s.

After a build-up of a couple of years, the pair met at the Wimbledon in 1980 where McEnroe was beaten by Borg at his first final resulting in the Swede winning his fifth consecutive title at the London-based tournament in what is widely considered to be the best final ever played.

McEnroe exacted revenge two months later, beating Borg in the five-set final of the 1980 US Open.

He met Borg at Wimbledon again and won but his club membership was not recorded because of his on-court outbursts.

Borg and McEnroe met for their last confrontation in the final of the 1981 US Open with McEnroe winning four sets and becoming the first male player since the 1920s to nab three consecutive US Open singles titles.

Speaking about their relationship and epic rivalry, LaBeouf said: "There's 30,000 people in the stands, millions watching (on television) and there are two dudes (McEnroe and Borg). There is something really romantic about that. You don't often see masculine love portrayed honestly."

McEnroe, who is now aged 57, was known as the hellraiser of the sport because of his confrontational on-court behaviour and revolutionised the image of tennis.

LaBeouf is just as cocky in the public eye and famously showed his contempt for celebrity culture, when he wore a brown paper bag on his head at a red-carpet premiere at the Berlin Film Festival two years ago.