If Benedict Cumberbath was going to star in a movie about fighting, you’d expect it to be of the rather posh, Marquess Of Queenberry boxing type. However, he’s going more working/under class, as Screen Daily reports he’s signed on to star in Gypsy Boy, based on Mikey Walsh’s best-selling memoirs.
The film is ‘set among the Romany Gypsy community and follows the Walsh family, who were known for their considerable prowess in the Gypsy boxing ring. Cumberbatch will play Mikey’s father Frank Walsh, who pressures his son (who is gay) to maintain the family’s bare-knuckle boxing tradition. As he grows into his teens, Mikey is forced to make an agonising decision – to stay and keep fighting and face the shame head on, or escape and never return.’
Cumberbatch comments, “I was immediately drawn to Mikey’s courageous and heart-breaking story. And his father Frank is unlike any character I’ve played before. 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. It’s a tension that threatens to tear everyone in their family and that community apart.”
Walsh has since become a LGBT activist, although as hesuffers from social anxiety disorder he rarely makes public appearances.
Morgan Matthews (X+Y) will direct the film, and he’s currently in the middle of casting the role of Mikey. BBC Films is backing the movie, which will be looking for buyers at the Toronto International Film Festival. The current plan is to shoot Gypsy Boy next summer.