Cannes: Sam Claflin to Star as Soccer Legend Robin Friday in Biopic

“Hunger Games” star Sam Claflin will topline “Robin Friday,” a biopic about the British soccer legend that’s scheduled for a fall shoot in the U.K.

Henry-Alex Rubin (“Murderball”) will direct. Fortitude International will launch international sales at Cannes. CAA, which packaged and arranged financing, will represent the film’s North American rights.

Producers are Mike Young, Julian Stone and Paolo Hewitt of RF Movie Productions. Financing partners include Global Film Partners’ Daniel Koefoed and Guirec van Slingelandt, Telegael’s Paul Cummings and 9Magnan’s Meghana Gupta.

The film will be based on the biography “The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw: The Robin Friday Story,” co-written by Paul McGuigan and Paolo Hewitt. Julian Stone and Hewitt wrote the screenplay.

The feature film was developed with funding and support from Film Cymru Wales. Additional casting is under way to bring an authentic soccer presence, including real-life professional soccer players.

Friday played for the Reading and Cardiff teams for four years in the 1970s while leading a hedonistic lifestyle. He died at the age of 38 in 1990; in 2004 he was voted an “all time cult hero” in a BBC poll.

“This will not just be a film about cheering a goal, but about tears and laughs and music and silence and anger and love … because this working-class hero with outrageous talent lived it all,” Stone said. “It was a time before the age of privileged athletes, a time when the fans lived next door to their heroes. As Robin Friday walked down the streets of the ’70s, everybody wanted to be him. But quite frankly, no one else had the balls.”

Claflin is currently shooting “Me Before You” with Emilia Clarke and Janet McTeer for New Line, then will appear in “Their Finest Hour and a Half.” He’s repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group and Rubin by CAA and Management 360.

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