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Pele Biopic Begins Production, Adds Vincent D'Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro And More

While Ron Howard probably has the “Sports Movie of 2013” locked up with his Formula One racing movie Rush , his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer is probably hoping to take the title in 2014, as his biopic Pelé began principal photography on September 30th in Brazil. According to a press release, the film’s entire cast was announced, and it is a mixed bag of nationalities and acting status. Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Colm Meaney (Hell on Wheels), and one of Brazil’s most famous actor’s, Rodrigo Santoro (300), have all signed on for the film. They’ll join Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages) and Brazilian musician Seu Jorge (The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou) in the film.

One of the most internationally recognized and respected athletes ever, Edson Arantes do Nascimento (better known as Pelé), is quite possibly the greatest soccer player to play the game. The film, written and directed by brothers Michael and Jeff Zimbalist, will follow Pelé’s early life, from his impoverished youth in Brazil to his winning goal in the 1958 World Cup at just 17 years old, with all of the inspirational practice and hardships in between.

Newcomer Kevin de Paula will be playing Pelé from ages 13-17 and fellow newcomer Leonardo Lima Carvalho will play a 10-year-old Pelé. Jorge will play his father who taught him how to play the game at an early age, pushing him to greatness. D’Onofrio will play Feola, the Brazilian team’s World Cup coach. Boneta will star as Jose, an archrival who allegedly gave Pelé his nickname when they were children. Meaney will play George Raynor, the British coach of the Swedish World Cup team. Unfortunately, Santoro’s role isn't specified.

The rest of the supporting cast includes a large number of international stars, including Thelmo Fernandes (Elite Squad), Julio Levy, Marianna Nunes, Milton Goncales, Rafael Henrique, Marcus Vinicius, Felipe Simas, Charles Myara, Jerome Franz and Roger Haag. Not exactly the character actors we in the U.S. are used to filling out our dramatic biopics.

D’Onofrio has been busy as ever, following the L&O cancellation with a string of indie movies, including the recently released comedy Ass Backwards and the familial comedy drama Chlorine. He’ll be seen soon opposite Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Mikael Håfström’s Escape Plan. You can find Meaney starring in the religious cult thriller Where the Devil Hides, which comes out October 11th. Santoro, meanwhile, starred with Schwarzenegger himself this year in The Last Stand, and will be seen next year in 300: Rise of an Empire and Gavin O’Connor’s action western Jane Got a Gun.

Are you guys excited about this one? I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I appreciate that this will be focusing on Pele's youth, and the road it took to become a champion, rather than strictly focusing on a single contest and the hopes that the good guys come out the victors.

Check out some of Pelé’s greatest goals in the video below.

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.