Chris Benoit: The Hardest Movie Role to Fill
By now everyone, whether a wrestling fan or not, has heard the story of Chris Benoit. In 2007, the former wrestler murdered his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son Daniel before taking his own life. The story broke and was all over television, magazines, and the internet. If you didn’t hear about it, you are either too young to need to know about it or you have been living in a cave. And now, Hollywood is knocking at the door and a biopic, Crossface, will be in the works very soon.
The movie will follow the life of Chris Benoit from his days training with the Hart family all the way until the double murder-suicide that took place in 2007. Benoit was a great professional wrestler that wrestled all around the world in promotions like CMLL (Mexico), NJPW (Japan), ECW, WCW, and WWE. The “Canadian Crippler” was a two-time World Champion in WWE, a five-time WCW/WWE United States Champion, a WWE Royal Rumble winner, and more. He even main-evented WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden. He was scheduled to beat CM Punk for the WWE version of the ECW Championship on June 24, 2007 at Vengeance: Night of Champions. But he never did. This is where Benoit the wrestler ends. Instead of winning a title that weekend, he became the killer that he is now remembered for. And there lies the big question with this film: Who will want to portray the man that is responsible for such heinous acts?
Crossface is based off of Matthew Randazzo’s book entitled “Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry” and is being written for the big screen by Sarah Coulter, a former Weinstein Company staffer. Vicente Amorim, best known for the independent film Good, was brought on recently as director. The film is not set to shoot until next year, but the question as to who will portray Benoit is already a hot topic.
It was reported earlier this month that Live Schreiber (Scream series, Showtime’s Ray Donovan) was going to be playing Benoit only for his representatives to deny this days later. Schreiber is a well-known actor and I believe he would have done a great job. But does he, or anyone in the public spotlight, want to say yes to portraying a man that committed such evil acts? Sure, maybe a young actor trying to make a name for himself would be willing to take on the role. But if this is to be more than a “movie of the week” TV deal, it needs an actor that is recognizable and that will make people want to see this. There are already plenty of people that will not want to see this movie as it is. Hell, there are people that don’t think this movie should be made! But it will be. There is no stopping it.
I know for a fact that the WWE does not want to see this movie get made. After learning what exactly happened over that weekend in Georgia, the WWE did everything possible to basically erase Benoit from the history of the company. But not even they can stop the film from going forward. Hell, the writers even said that Vince McMahon and Triple H, among others, will be portrayed in the film. I’m sure they’d love to stop it, but they won’t be able to. Nothing will stop this movie from being produced. There have been plenty of movies based on real-life murderers that have been made. And I’m not talking about horror movies that were loosely based on murderers like Ed Gein such as Psycho or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I’m talking about movies like the one that was made about the trial of Casey Anthony and the likes. And most of those movies are made for TV and air on BASIC TELEVISION. I haven’t watched that movie but if there is a movie about the crime that she was accused of then a Chris Benoit movie is no worse. But all that aside, what actor out there will want the name Chris Benoit on their filmography?
Let’s get all this straight. I do not in any way condone what Benoit did. He killed his wife, drugged and killed his own 7-year-old son, and then committed suicide by hanging himself on a weight bench. What he did is sickening and I will never look at him the same. Was he a great wrestler? Yes. But what he did overshadows that and that is what he is now remembered for. And still, 6 years later, there are questions that remain unanswered. Was it “‘roid rage”? Was it a battle with dementia that was caused by the damage to his brain? Was it a fight between Chris and Nancy that went overboard? Bob Holly suggests in his book “The Hardcore Truth” that he believes alcohol was a factor. No one may ever know his exact motives. But we all know that it happened and now people want to make a movie about the man’s life.
I have no problem with the movie being made and I will watch it when it comes out. I want to see what the take is from these people. I have yet to read Randazzo’s book but I’m sure I’ll get around to it in time. But the question that needs answering is simply will anyone play Benoit? I don’t think it will be hard to fill the roles of Nancy, Daniel, and anyone else involved. But who wants to be known as the man that played Chris Benoit, the wrestler that took his family’s lives and then his own. People thought that it must have been hard for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal to take on the roles they did in Brokeback Mountain because of the movie’s subject matter. But I guarantee that this role may be tougher to fill. It could be a role that gets an actor notice. But it could also be a role that leaves a stigma on an actor’s career that he may never be able to get rid of.