Director James Toback is in the ring with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson on a feature documentary that traces how the fighter self-destructed and let a fortune and his ring legacy slip away.
Toback will prepare “Tyson” using more than 30 hours of recently completed interviews with the ex-champ. The director said his subject pulls no punches in chronicling every aspect of his rise and fall.
Damon Bingham, Harlan Werner, Tyson and Toback are producing. The film will be finished in the fall, and ICM will sell worldwide rights.
Toback told Daily Variety that he’s been fascinated by Tyson since they first met in 1985, just as the fighter was about to win his first title at 19. He put Tyson in his movies “Black and White” and “When Will I Be Loved,” and they stayed in touch during the fighter’s spectacular rise and fall from grace, including his marriage to actresss Robin Givens, Buster Douglas knocking him out in a bout in 1990, the prison term for a sexual assault conviction and biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear in the ring.
After the boxer emerged clean and sober following a recent rehab stint, Tyson and Toback decided it was time to tell his story in detail, from his time under the wing of promoter Don King to his conviction for sexual assault.
“The point is not to polish his image or make a cinematic apology, but rather to get a firsthand look at a very complex and epic story,” Toback said.
“He was honest about all the things that have highlighted his life, from the bitter divorce, the ear-biting, prison, to his becoming a sex addict. He is self-aware, smart and a totally fractured personality, and he made himself completely vulnerable.”
Tyson said he was “humbled and appreciate that Mr. Toback gave me an opportunity to be involved in this project. I will, to the best of my abilities, give a truthful account of myself.”
A correction was made to this article on May 15, 2007.