The story of the greatest footballer all-time is getting underway, with Vincent D’Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro, Diego Boneta, Colm Meaney and Seu Jorge lacing up for Pele, a biopic of the Brazilian soccer superstar.
Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures are behind the production, with the latter fully financing the film, having licensed Pele’s life rights from Sports Licensing International B.V.
The inspirational sports drama is written and being directed by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist.
Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Kim Roth, Seine Pictures’ Ivan Orlic, and Colin Wilson are producing. Santoro will associate produce.
Pele is described as an origins story chronicling Pele’s rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to become the people’s hero when, as a 17-year-old, he led Brazil to its first-ever World Cup victory in 1958.
D’Onofrio is in final negotiations to play the Brazilian team’s World Cup coach Feola, while Boneta will play Jose, Pele’s arch rival, who was responsible for giving him the nickname “Pele” when they were children. Santoro’s role is being kept under wraps
Jorge is playing Pele’s father, Dondinho. Meaney will play the role of coach George Raynor, the British coach of the Swedish nation team that lost to Brazil in the ’58 World Cup final.
As for Pele, the superstar will be played by two neophyte actors. Kevin de Paula will (slide)tackle him from ages 13 to 17 while Leonardo Lima Carvalho will play him at age 10.
Also in the cast are Brazilian actors Marianna Nunes, Milton Goncales, Rafael Henrique, Marcus Vinicius, Julio Levy, Thelmo Fernandes, Felipe Simas, Charles Myara, Jerome Franz and Roger Haag.
Production began this week on location in Brazil.
Domestic rights for the film are jointly repped by CAA and WME. Exclusive Media is handling international sales.
Pele, Paul Kemsley and Exclusive Media are exec producing.
D’Onofrio, for 10 years the star of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, next appears in Escape Plan with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is repped by UTA and Silver Lining Entertainment.
Santoro, one of Brazil’s biggest exports, next stars as Xerxes as 300: Rise of an Empire and will also be seen in Jane Got a Gun. Santoro is repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Boneta, repped by Gersh and Hansen Jacobson, starred in Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise and had roles in the Brad Furman-produced indie Dead Men and most recently wrapped Ombra Film’s Eden.