Former champion boxer Vinny "Paz" Pazienza grew up in Cranston, went to Park View Middle School and soon will be portrayed by Mark Teller, star of The spectacular Now,21 & Over, Project X and That Awkward Moment.
East Greenwich-based Verdi productions announced the casting of Teller as the famed Pazienza in Bleed for This, a film that will be shot in Rhode Island and tells the story of the five-time world champion as he recovered from a near-fatal car accident that broke his neck. He then went on to win three more boxing titles, "one of the most incredible and dramatic comebacks in sports history," according to a release.
Aaron Eckhart will play the role of Paz's trainer, Kevin Rooney. Eckhart has starred in The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen, I,and Frankenstein and will portray Rooney's role in helping Pazienza change boxing styles that helped him be only one of two other boxers to win titles in both the lightweight and junior middle weight class in 1991. Rooney was also Mike Tyson's trainer when Tyson won his first heavyweight championship.
Perhaps the biggest name behind the production is none other than Oscar winner Martin Scorcese, whose resume includes such history making films as The Departed and Goodfellas. Joining the team is Ben Younger, Noah Craft, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Bruce Cohen and none other than Chad A. Verdi, whose home-grown production company, Verdi Productions/Woodhaven Production Companany already has six feature films under its belt.
The production cost for Bleed for This is estimated to run from $10 to $20 million.
"My producing partners Noah Kraft, my wife Michelle, and I got involved in the film business in 2009 with one purpose: to have the story of Vinny Paz told," Verdi said. "The best thing that ever happened to this project was Ben Younger coming on board to write and direct Bleed for This. [It's] Ben's vision and with the support of Martin Scorsese, Bruce Cohen and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, this film is destined for greatness. I was introduced to Martin and Emma through Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who has been instrumental in helping me develop these projects."
Verdi noted that writer and director Tom DeNucci will be brought on board as a consultant to the project.
The film is expected to go into preproduction before July 2014.