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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Biopics aren't born, they are made

With the Brett Favre will-he-or-won't-he drama apparently over (for now), it's time to look back at another Green Bay Packers legend who famously came out of retirement only to work for another team.

ESPN Films-Motion Pictures is joining NFL Films to produce an already-in-the-works TV movie about the life of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, according to Variety.com. Scheduled to premiere the weekend before the Super Bowl in 2011, the Lombardi movie will reportedly be less of the traditional sports movie originally intended, says ESPN Films' Ron Semiao, who also re-wrote the screenplay, than something closer to "Raging Bull." Whether that means we can expect a scene where a bloated, disfigured Lombardi tells bad jokes to himself in the mirror remains to be seen.

According to Variety, the movie promises to highlight the rivalry between Vince and Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys at the time of the 1967 Ice Bowl. I can totally see the entire film being framed around the Ice Bowl, with flashbacks to Lombardi's life up to that point. The whole dang thing practically writes itself.

The big question, of course, is who plays him? In addition to being a brilliant mind and fiery personality, Lombardi had quite the distinctive mug. There's probably not an actor in Hollywood who comes close to resembling him. Maybe Marty Balsam back in the day could have pulled it off, or perhaps a young Jerry Stiller.

But who do we have these days? Paul Giamatti? He's about the right age (Lombardi was 45 when he started coaching the Pack), but he's too shlubby. We need someone with a more imposing presence. Willem DaFoe, maybe? In a false nose, of course, and with a few pounds packed on him. He could definitely pull off the necessary temperament, and he's already played a character who loved to dress all in green in "Spider-Man."

I don't know, anybody else got some ideas? Who would you cast in the upcoming Vince Lombardi TV biopic? Hit the comments field with your suggestions.

-- Adam Reinhard, areinhard@greenbaypressgazette.com

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40 Comments:

Michael Imperioli from "The Sopranos"

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 28, 2009 at 10:26 PM  

Russell Crowe or Brad Pitt

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 5:38 AM  

Tommy Lee Jones

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 6:18 AM  

Tom Hanks or Robin Williams, although either one would need very good makeup. This project calls for an actor who is brilliant at impersonation. Sean Penn would be terrific if you could get him to look the part. He has the intensity needed.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 8:41 AM  

Personally I think Willem DaFoe is a great pick... he has the same cadence to his speech as Lombardi does and he's originally from nearby Appleton!

--Malavika

p.s. I love that none of other posts get any comments, but the minute we write about the Packers, open the floodgates!

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 8:55 AM  

Oh, MJ ... you're totally not giving your "NYC Prep" post any credit. That had, like, eight comments! An all-time high!

I like DaFoe, too, particularly for the cadence. I'm pretty sure Ernest Borgnine once played Lombardi, but he's too old now.

How about Christopher Meloni or Chazz Palminteri? I'm just thinking of Italian-American actors.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 9:03 AM  

I think the dad from the Wonder Years...not sure what his name is but he would be perfect.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

Robert De Niro. Duh. And Marty should direct,.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 9:13 AM  

Sasha Baron Cohen

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

Brett Favre? I mean, it's not like he's going to be doing anything and he has acting chops!

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 9:35 AM  

I'd totally watch a movie with Sacha Baron Cohen and Brett Favre.

The dad from the "Wonder Years." Nice.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 9:40 AM  

Mark Ruffalo
Kevin Spacey
Dean Caine
Jeremy Piven
Jason Alexander

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

Ernest Borgnine in his prime.

By Blogger Antony, At July 29, 2009 at 10:15 AM  

Alec Baldwin, he has the fire.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 10:44 AM  

Billy Bob Thornton

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

Gene Hackman is a natural for this position, portraying the tough, no-nonsense, seldom smiling Vince Lombardi.

By Anonymous Hank - GB Wis, At July 29, 2009 at 11:44 AM  

What about Michael Chiklis with a wig or something?

By Blogger CarrieLynn, At July 29, 2009 at 12:05 PM  

Al Pacino.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 12:13 PM  

Some really fantastic suggestions here, guys -- keep 'em coming.

Also keep in mind they'll likely need to cast Bart Starr and the rest of the Ice Bowl team. Who do think should play them?

-Adam

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 12:19 PM  

Bart: "A real Swiss Army knife! Cool!"

Homer: "I stole it from that Borgnine guy."

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 12:24 PM  

Brad Pitt! Say what.

i like Gene Hackman or the Wonder Years dad.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

Ernest Borgnine 1973 Legend in Granite movie about Vince Lombardi

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

Wow, good memory! I'm sure Borgnine made a great Lombardi. Then you've got Colleen Dewhurst as his wife, Marie, and Alex Rocco as Tony Canadeo. Anybody else remember this?

Here's the listing at IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0186300/

-Adam

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

Oops, quick correction here, courtesy of Erik Reichertz of Marquette:

"Lombardi did not actually retire, he was Packers GM in 1968. In 1969, he took the position with the Redskins.

Go Pack!"

Thanks, Erik. My Packers knowledge is, admittedly, a bit lacking.

-Adam

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At July 29, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

The dad from the Wonder Years.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 2:40 PM  

Oliver Platt
Vincent D'Onofrio
Michael Chiklis
Nick Frost
Philip Seymour Hoffman
and in about 10 years - Seth Rogan

Steve Kluth

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 4:08 PM  

In no particular order
- Denzel Washington
- Drew Barrymore
- Haley Joel Osment

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 8:38 PM  

Vince Lombardi Jr. resembles his dad.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 29, 2009 at 9:58 PM  

Jack Nicholson with the assist of one of Hollywoods great makeup artists.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 10:13 AM  

The best person to play the part of Vince Lombardi? Vince Lombardi, Jr.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 10:30 AM  

Kurtwood Smith. AKA "Red" from that 70's show.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 11:04 AM  

Kurtwood Smith is also from Wisconsin. Jeremy Piven was an interesting suggestion-good actor.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

Liam Neeson.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

Jerry Stiller already played him in some Nike commercials years back

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 1:50 PM  

Kurtwood Smith also has experience demonstrating the power sweep at the end of an episode of that 70's show.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 1:51 PM  

YESSSSS Ernest Borgnine... WOW my kids thought i was crazy when i mentioned that movie..... play it again *sam* HA.... Ernie's the best

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

Also got this in an email:

"Years ago Ernest Borgnine of Mchale's Navy played Vince Lombardi. You could not tell them apart right down to the spacing in their teeth. Look it up. If Ernest is still alive, he would be a dead ringer."

Thanks to Mihchael.

-Adam

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At August 1, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

Kurtwood Smith would be a great Tom Landry. Nic Cage as Bart Starr and Thomas Haden Church as Jerry Kramer.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 4:28 PM  

If Jerry Stiller could pull it off, why not Ben Stiller????

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 1, 2009 at 7:56 PM  

I believe Max Cusella should play the young "Vince" and Vincent Pastore the older. Both of these actors were in the sopranos and could pull off the gritty, driven profile of our legend. I don't believe there is a bigtime star that could bury himself into this lead.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 4, 2009 at 9:43 AM  

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