Here"s the unlikely real-life inspiration behind 2015 boxing drama Southpaw. Rocky is still considered the reigning champion of the boxing movie, with both the original film and its many sequels chronicling the personal and professional ups and downs of the title boxer. Sylvester Stallone literally and figuratively handed over the gloves to Michael B. Jordan in the Creed duology, with the actor vowing Creed 2 would be Rocky"s final appearance.
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While Rocky is typically the first movie that comes to mind when it comes to boxing dramas, there have been plenty of other notable examples. There"s the famous 1979 tearjerker The Champ, Raging Bull or Clint Eastwood"s Oscar-winning drama Million Dollar Baby. Southpaw joined those ranks in 2015, which told the story of a boxer named Billy "The Great" Hope, whose life falls apart when his wife is murdered and he loses custody of his daughter when he becomes an alcoholic.
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Southpaw was helmed by Antoine Fuqua and features a great cast, with Jake Gyllenhaal playing Billy with Forest Whitaker and Rachel McAdams co-starring. While there isn"t a boxer named Billy Hope in real-life, the movie is somewhat inspired by a true story. This actually goes back to the actor who was originally cast in the lead role - Eminem.
Southpaw screenwriter Kurt Sutter - who also created Sons Of Anarchy - wrote the movie with Eminem in mind. Sutter was a great admirer of Eminem"s music and wrote Southpaw as a kind of an unofficial sequel to 8 Mile. The boxing elements of the movie were supposed to be symbolic of his life journey, and Billy"s relationship with his young daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) was meant to mirror that of Eminem and his daughter Hailie. While the rapper received great reviews for his performance in 8 Mile, he"s been famously reluctant to take up another acting gig since, including turning down the lead role in Elysium. He has made cameos as himself, however, in the likes of Funny People.
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Eminem was attached to Southpaw until 2012, with Gyllenhaal eventually replacing him. The rapper still stayed on in a small capacity, producing songs like "Kings Never Die" for the movie"s soundtrack. Good as Jake Gyllenhaal was it would have been interesting to see Eminem step into the role, especially as it was so heavily inspired by his life. That said, if the rapper wasn"t totally committed to the project, it"s for the best he decided to step aside.