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Matt Damon will tell the story of Lance Armstrong

October 19, 2010 |  1:35 pm














EXCLUSIVE: Matt Damon is set to play Lance Armstrong in a long-gestating biopic about the Tour de France champion that may never get made.

But he'll be connected to the star athlete in another filmic way: Damon will narrate the new documentary about Armstrong from Oscar-winner Alex Gibney.

Gibney, whose Eliot Spitzer nonfiction film "Client 9" is coming out next month (more on that in a later post), centers his Armstrong movie on the cyclist's much-touted comeback at the 2009 Tour de France.

Gibney sees in Armstrong a figure both complex and polarizing. "There is, at least from the public perspective, a big disparity of opinion on him. Some people hold him up to be a saint. Particularly if you're a cancer survivor or cancer patient, he provides enormous hope," Gibney says. "Other people see in him a kind of hypocrisy, and hypocrisy drives people crazy, particularly if they make money off it."

Damon Gibney is pulling a bit of a switch with the comeback tale. The director has often been preoccupied with powerful people brought low, as he was in the Oscar-nominated "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" and the Spitzer doc. He also directed the Afghanistan torture movie "Taxi to the Dark Side," which won the Academy Award for best documentary.

With a recognizable voice and a clear (and at times itself polarizing) interest in current events, Damon has been moonlighting as a documentary narrator quite a bit lately. He narrates the current financial-crisis doc "Inside Job" and did the same on the 2008 water-crisis doc "Running the Sahara."

Gibney says he chose the actor because he knew many cycling fans were aware of Damon's attachment to the Armstrong feature and wanted to give them another point of connection to the story. The movie, incidentally, has been in development for more than six years, with veteran producer Frank Marshall ("Back to the Future," the Bourne movies) set to direct, but at this moment the film doesn't have much, er, forward momentum.

Meanwhile, the Armstrong doc, which is set to come out next year, becomes more timely as doping scandals grow — disgraced Tour de France 2006 champion Floyd Landis has accused Armstrong and others of doping, and three-time and current champion Alberto Contador risks being stripped of his title because of a failed drug test — developments that also make Gibney's movie a moving target.

The filmmaker, who is mostly done shooting but is still talking to some subjects, says this makes for hard but necessary choices. "At some point, the only thing you can do is make up your mind on when the story ends," he says. "If you try to put in too much, the film will just go on forever."

— Steven Zeitchik


Photos: Top, Lance Armstrong. Credit:  Bradley C Bower / Associated Press. Above, Matt Damon. Credit: Peter Foley / EPA.


Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Is the documentary going to come out before Pharmstrong is indicted?

Dirk has a couple b/b projects he's going to record out in the valley. Matt Damon is welcome to star or narrate.


Lance Armstrong is such a phony. I'm surprised Matt Damon would be a part of this project.

Damon better lose about 30 lbs. and grow about 4 inches if he wants to play Armstrong.

Cant wait for the Roid scenes.....

Easiest way to get me NOT to watch something, put Matt Damon in it.

Whatever anyone thinks about Lance Armstrong, no one can deny his story is pretty amazing. This is a great concept that should have happened long ago. Tell Lance what you think at LanceSupport.org.

Markjoe: Lance Armstrong is 5'8" with lifts; Matt Damon is 6' tall. Where do you want him to add inches?

I agree with George on this one. Mr. Armstrong is a very controversial figure. Matt Damon could be in for a lot of criticism, depending on which way his interpretation falls.

Look at this article regarding Matt Damon and Lance.

Hmm, ok a couple of things. As a life long competitive cyclist I can say the following:

Samples from the 1999 Tour de France were re-tested by AFLD (French Anti-Doping Testing Angency, tested out of protocol of WADA and UCI) and were found to have traces of EPO. LA was not sanctioned, however, because these tests were not done by the UCI or WADA , but were done for testing purposes to see if the new EPO detection would work.


The AFLD are also reported to be collaborating with the Federal invstigation-


And finally, LA is approx 5'9"-5'10" and 155-160lbs during the racing season. Like most cyclist, he is much thinner when racing than when he was not actively competing. I believe LA gained over 20lbs while out of competition.

Too Bad Damon is not a genuine endurance athlete cyclist per se with hard core deep passionate roots embedded in the heart and soul to race and push his human body beyond its limits and more. Implacable Drive Perseverance & Resolve. That only true athletes know.


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