Veteran producer Frank Marshall ("Back to the Future," the 'Bourne' films) has been trying to get a Lance Armstrong biopic off the ground for more than six years. Matt Damon was even once loosely attached. "We've been talking about it," he told MTV in 2005, "but there's nothing [yet]; it would need a great script and a great director — it would need a lot. I would only do it if it could be great. ... [Armstrong's] feeling is there's no real reason to make his story, necessarily, unless it can be great."
Marshall, who hasn't helmed a picture since 2006's "Eight Below," was even planning to direct it and told MTV that he actually had started. "I was there, and we shot on the last day of [Armstrong's] seventh win last summer in Paris," he told them in February of 2006. "We had six cameras going; it was incredibly exciting."
The LATimes however provides us with a round-about update. Marshall's biopic starring Matt Damon is still unfortunately spinning its wheels, however, the connection between the two friends is still there. Damon will be narrating Alex Gibney's new doc about the persevering cyclist, who famously won a record-setting seven consecutive Tour de France wins after surviving testicular cancer.
Gibney is on a creative jag of sorts these days. Earlier this year he released, "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," that chronicled the life of disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and next month (November 5), he releases the self-explanatory, "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer." Oh yeah, there's also the documentary, "Freakonomics" he was part of earlier this year, that was a super-group doc of sorts featuring segments by Heidi Ewing, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki and Morgan Spurlock.
Everytime Gibney shows up to make a documentary, the Academy tends to notice. He earned a Best Documentary Feature nomination in 2005 for "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" and won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for "Taxi To The Dark Side."
Gibney's Armstrong doc will center on the aforementioned 2005 seventh Tour De France win, but notes that not everyone views the cyclist as a heroic figure worth championing. "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 also recently narrated Charles Ferguson's riveting financial meltdown doc, "Inside Job" and also lent his voice to the 2008 water-crisis doc "Running the Sahara" (water issues being a passion-project of Damon's). And so at the rapid clip that Gibney works at, when will we see the doc? The LATimes says it's eyeing a 2011 date and shooting is already mostly complete.