Why did you want to make a movie based on this particular family?
I just thought it would make for an amazing movie, full of emotion, humour and inspiration. I was selfishly wanting to play this part for a very long time and was friends with Micky for years and promised him I was going to get it done, so I couldn’t find any reasons not to do it.
What was it that attracted you to this role?
Putting on that belt, you know, childhood fantasy, being in the ring, the crowd screaming and also Micky’s journey is very much like mine. The only difference is I was in the entertainment business and he was an athlete, but other than that, we grew up thirty minutes from each other, both from a family of nine, and both had to overcome a lot of obstacle to achieve our goals and pursue our dreams.
How did you train for The Fighter?
We just decided we want to look like a real boxer, a guy who could win the welter weight title. Obviously having to duplicate Micky’s style, it ended up, because of all the false starts in the movie, it ended up taking four and a half years to train and become the guy, but it was well worth it.
What do you think made Micky a great fighter?
His heart, his unwillingness to quit or give up, he always wanted it more than anybody. It was always a test of will and sheer determination and that’s why every single one of his fights was an amazing event filled with emotion, and drama, very much like a good boxing movie.
How was it working with the real Micky and Dicky?
Well, they mostly worked with us on the training aspect. They came and moved into my house for a while, and you know, I have a boxing ring in my back yard that I built. We were training there and we would do all of the casting at my house and we basically set up shop right there in my house.
What makes this more than a boxing movie?
Boxing is really just the back drop, this is a family drama. It’s about family, relationships, overcoming adversity and those types of things.
What do you want people to take away from The Fighter?
People are coming out of the theatre, bobbing and weaving and throwing punches and saying “head body, head body”, you know, that’s what Rocky was to me. When I came out as a kid, I think I ran all the way from the theatre, imagining that kids were chasing me and the crowd’s getting bigger and bigger until I got to the museum.