(Reuters) – The heated rivalry between Swede Bjorn Borg and American John McEnroe is the centerpiece of a new film on the famous battles between the tennis greats both on and off the court.
“Borg/McEnroe,” starring Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason as Borg and U.S. actor Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe, traces the rivalry between the two tennis players at the 1980 Wimbledon final, considered to be one of the best tennis matches ever played.
It was their different styles of playing tennis as well as their temperament that made their rivalry more intense in the eyes of spectators.
Borg, then 24, was cool, calm and collected, while McEnroe, 21, was seen as tennis’ bad boy with a fiery temperament, sometimes getting into shouting matches with referees.
“I think it’s a story about two people who were seen as opposites but had more in common than most people know of and a friendship developing out of that meeting,” Danish director Janus Metz Pedersen told reporters at a news conference in Sweden on Tuesday.
Gudnason added, “They became close friends later in life and I think it’s much about them understanding each other. They have made the same journey.”
The film, currently shooting in Sweden and scheduled to debut in the fall of 2017, will also star veteran Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard as Borg’s coach Lennart Bergelin.
LaBeouf said he is “pretty confident” about the film, and hoped McEnroe would be one of the first to see the movie.
“I’m excited to show him the movie and I’m sure he’ll see it before everybody,” LaBeouf said. “We love John on this side you know. It’s been very inviting from our camp to his and we’re gonna link up eventually and I’m sure he’ll like what we did.”
Skarsgard shared his own memories of watching the match between Borg and McEnroe in the summer of 1980, which he said had gotten him hooked on the sport.
“That final quickly stopped being sport. It became huge drama and it was fantastic to see and I ended up just as interested as all sports freaks,” Skarsgard said.
(Reporting by Reuters TV in Sweden; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)