Wrestling fans speculated that it would only be a matter of time before wrestler Chris Benoit’s horrifying story was brought to life in a movie, and now it’s official -- SRG Films has announced Crossface, a “biographical thriller” that follows the former WWE champion from his early days training with the Hart family all the way up to the murder-suicide that ended his career.
With Matthew Randzzo V’s scathing tell-all Ring of Hell as the foundation for the screenplay, producer Dale Alexander Carnegie (Clash of the Titans) hopes to shine a light on the troubles of the pro wrestling industry through Benoit’s story. In a press release, Carnegie notes, “All of us grow up believing that wrestling is fake, but looking at the shocking number of deaths in the industry, it quickly becomes evident that there is nothing fake about the dangers of this sport.”
Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son before taking his own life in June 2007, shocking the wrestling world and drawing an intense amount of media attention to the industry. While many pundits jumped to “roid rage” as the cause, an autopsy revealed that the 40-year old Benoit had, according to medical examiners, “the brain of an 85-year old Alzheimer’s patient” from the toll his profession took on his body. "People immediately point to steroids, never thinking about the brain trauma these wrestlers can, and do, incur in their profession,” said Crossface screenwriter Sarah Coulter, “nor do they consider the rigorous schedule that keeps them working even when they shouldn t be.”
Randazzo’s book is a blistering indictment of wrestling culture as a whole, and often paints Benoit as a sadistic monster who couldn’t differentiate between real life and the artifice of scripted sports entertainment (even though many of his closest friends still speak of him as a quiet and gentle man). It will be interesting to see how Sarah Coulter’s screenplay handles the humanity of a man that many fans still see as a monster (even WWE has erased all mention of Benoit from retrospective specials and their championship history).
SRG Films is still in search of a director and star, with a projected start date of Fall 2012. Darren Aronofsky proved with The Wrestler that there’s plenty of drama in a well-crafted wrestling story, but he was dealing with a fictional character. Crossface faces its own set of challenges by bringing a real situation to the screen; perhaps biggest among those challenges is finding the right actor to play Benoit.
Is the right actor out there? Who do you think should play “The Canadian Crippler” Chris Benoit?