The Oscar-nominated star of “The Imitation Game” and “Sherlock” will play a demanding father and a member of the last generation of the Romany Gypsy people, known for their ability to fight. Boxing is a religion to the Walsh clan, so much so that when Mikey is born, he is given a pair of golden gloves on a chain to wear around his neck. The pressure for Mikey to become a boxer splits the family.
“I was immediately drawn to Mikey’s courageous and heart-breaking story. And his father Frank is unlike any character I’ve played before,” Cumberbatch said in a statement. “He’s a complex man torn between tradition and his love for a son struggling to come to terms with an identity that’s completely at odds with Frank and his culture.”
The producers are looking for a young actor to play Mikey opposite Cumberbatch.
Production on the film is scheduled to start next summer. Protagonist Pictures is handling worldwide sales on the project and is introducing it to buyers at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival. BBC Films is financing the picture.
Morgan Matthews (“X+Y”) is directing the film. Dee Koppang O’Leary (Netflix’s “The Crown”) and Kevin Loader (“The Death of Stalin”) will produce. James Graham (“The Vote”) adapted Walsh’s books.
The first autobiography, “Gypsy Boy,” was released in 2010 by Hodder & Stoughton and was a Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller in the U.K., a follow-up book, “Gypsy Boy on the Run,” was published in 2011.
Cumberbatch is repped by Conway van Gelder Grant and UTA. He most recently starred in “Doctor Strange” and will be in Toronto to premiere “The Current War,” a drama in which he plays Thomas Edison.