Noel Clarke Says His MMA Project Is On Ice As He Invades Hollywood + Lobbying For 'Black Panther'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
June 15, 2012 12:52 PM
7 Comments
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Maybe one of the hardest working showmen in the UK right now, love him or hate him... he has at least 3 new films I can immediately think of that will be opening this year in the UK - one opening today: Fast Girls; another, the marriage romcom, The Knot; and a project he first revealed last year which would be set in the world of MMA -(Mixed Martial Arts for the uninitiated), which he wrote (he'd been working on it for 2 years) and was also to direct.

The film, which was to be set in both in the UK and the US, would be "in the vein of The Wrestler, The Fighter and Rocky," described as a "character driven film about a down on his luck MMA fighter who gets drawn further into the sport than he would have liked."

Of course, Clarke would play the lead, starring alongside stars from the real MMA world. He planned to start working out to pack on some lean muscle to his svelte frame.

I looked at films like The Wrestler and The Fighter and thought to myself, ‘Why hasn’t there been a British film like that?’ I’m trying to expand what British films do. When Adulthood and Kidulthood came out there wasn’t anything like those, now its created a genre... I’ve been a massive fan of the sport [MMA] for a long time and this felt like the right time to make this film, as I’ve got more confident as a film-maker... MMA is more popular than football when you look at the attendance figures. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world,” said Clarke.

Shooting was scheduled to begin October 2011, but that didn't happen. So why not?

Fast-forward to today, in an interview with Den Of Geek, Clarke had this to say when asked that questions:

What happened with that was that we were setting that up, and we had a decent cast setting up. Then Warrior came out, and didn't do as well as everyone thought. People went, if Tom Hardy can't do it, what can you do? So our sales estimates went down. Then I was rewriting it for a lower budget, and just as we were setting it up to shoot in March, in the November - while shooting Fast Girls - I got Star Trek. So that went out the window. I e-mailed the cast, and said here's the deal, got to do this, that film's on the back burner.

Of course he's referring the announcement earlier this year that he'd been cast in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek sequel, although the character he plays hasn't been made public yet.

He further emphasizes with Den Of Geek that the MMA project is definitely still on the burner, with no idea of whether it'll actually happen.

Clarke goes on to talk about getting the Star Trek role (he was obviously very pleased about that, given his recent announcement that he intended to make his way west to conquer Hollywood):

I've never worked on a film that size before, and I've never worked with a director [JJ Abrams] like that. He's on a different level, and you look at him and say that's what I have to aspire to be. If not that size, then at least take on the way he does it. He's a very clever guy, and it was an amazing experience. Hopefully they don't cut me out the film!

Hopefully not.

And then the interview got into this interesting bit I wasn't already aware of; specifically, that Clarke has been lobbying to star in Marvel's Black Panther movie (if/when it ever happens). Clarke said:

Well, a lot of the fans seem to be lobbying for me! There was a vote yesterday with loads of names on it, and I was winning that... I looked at it, and I was leading the vote. I thought wow! I think that's a knock on effect from Star Trek, though. I feel like with Fast Girls, and Storage 24 and that, some people are thinking that maybe he can do that stuff.

I can't immediately see him as Black Panther, but who knows.

You can check out the full interview HERE.

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7 Comments

  • Adam Scott Thompson | June 19, 2012 5:56 PMReply

    Ejiofor is Black Panther (following a Christian Bale workout regimen). Clarke could play a supporting character, though -- the villain, perhaps?

  • Marsh | June 18, 2012 11:07 AMReply

    I like Clarke; no one can fault his hustle. Is there another black Brit with his successful hustle in the British film industry? But he doesn't strike me as fitting the role of the Black Panther like Elba would.

    As for the insult about him being non-threatening, what the hell does that mean? Have you seen "Kidulthood"?

  • troy | June 15, 2012 8:36 PMReply

    What MMA movie did good at the box office in the last 15 years? Van Damne is no longer a big time draw.

  • cocoAngel | June 15, 2012 1:33 PMReply

    I don't understand how this guy is getting work, he is such a bad actor. He will never be Black Panther.

  • Curtis | June 15, 2012 1:45 PM

    That's just it; he's not "getting work." He's been creating his own work for many years in the UK and now the success he's had there is spilling over here. I can't knock his hustle.

  • Wahwah | June 15, 2012 1:45 PM

    Sure he will. He's got a foreign accent, and he's got just the right look; black, yet not too threatening. All he needs now is a good word from J.J.

  • the black police | June 15, 2012 1:07 PMReply

    This Noel Clarke guy is always making moves. I like him!

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