No matter how exactly you plan to tackle the story of notorious 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, as a full-on comedy, a dramedy or even outright drama, you need a solid dosage of silliness, nay buffoonery to get it right.
Good thing producers behind the upcoming “Match Maker” already figured that out, casting two-time Golden Globe-nominated actor and comedian Will Ferrell as infamous Bobby Riggs.
The once professional tennis world leader and Wimbledon and US Open champ challenged, at the age of 55, female tennis legend Margaret Court and subsequently Billie Jean King to exhibition events meant to prove the superiority of men over women in the sport.
Riggs won the first “Battle of the Sexes” match with ease, but lost to Billie Jean King, then aged 30, in three straight sets, helping women’s tennis get unprecedented exposure and media buzz. However, rumor has it the retired 55-year-old rigged (pun intended) the game, losing on purpose to pay off old debts to the mob.
The theory is detailed in an ESPN Magazine article by Don Van Natta, Jr., titled “The Match Maker: Bobby Riggs, the Mafia and the Battle of the Sexes,” which will apparently be the premise of the movie. Steve Conrad (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty“) “The Pursuit of Happyness”) is on board to adapt the story, despite early reports of Simon Beaufoy possibly getting the gig, with Danny Boyle in the director’s seat.
No words on whether Boyle is still in the running for “Match Maker”, but since Ferrell is also attached as a producer, alongside longtime partner and pal Adam McKay (“Anchorman”, “Step Brothers”), Peter Chernin (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) and Jenno Topping (“The Heat”), I’d say the odds are slim.
Bummer about that, however Ferrell is a brilliant choice for the co-lead role, being exactly as athletic and wacky as needed.