Academy Award nominated director Stephen Frears is developing Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight at HBO Films, based on a script from Shawn Slovo. The feature is set during the ten years after Ali was drafted and refused to enlist into the US Army. The boxer, who converted to Islam two years prior, cited that the conflict was against his religious beliefs and after he refused to step forward at the armed services induction he was promptly arrested and soon found guilty. A series of appeals led him to the Supreme Court, the case Clay v. United States.

Deadline reports that the project has just cast a score of on-screen talent to help fill the courtroom. Joining the previously cast Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella and rising star Benjamin Walker are Danny Glover, Barry Levinson, Pablo Schreiber, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban and Kathleen Chalfant have all joined MAGF. The bench is certainly filling, with Plummer already set as Supreme Court Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan II and Langella as Chief Justice Warren Burger, and now Levinson will play Justice Potter Stewart, Glover Justice Thurgood Marshall and Begley Jr. Justice Harry Blackmun. Off the bench, Balaban will play an Advocate for Vietnam Veterans, Schreiber will play Covert Becker (who seems opposed to Walker's liberal clerk) and Kathleen Chalfant will play Justice Harlan’s wife.

Although the IMDB page suggests that the fighter himself will feature in the film through archival footage, I can't imagine a film this focused on his struggle as a conscientious objector wouldn't require an actual actor to step into the boxer's shoes, and now that Attack the Block standout John Boyega is free, (he was scheduled to play a Mike-Tyson-like fighter for Spike Lee in HBO's Da Brick but that pilot was not picked up) I think he'd be the ideal candidate. However, when I first heard of the project, it was just after seeing Chronicle and Michael B. Jordan certainly has the mouth and the moves to play the charismatic fighter. HBO and Frears have put a lot of great pieces in play but ultimately the film will hinge on who they find to play the world famous pugilist.
Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? - Muhammad Ali

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