LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – After wrapping principal photography on his directing debut, actor Dermot Mulroney is slide-tackling his next project, a biopic on Liberian soccer star-turned-politician George Weah.
Weah rose from the slums of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, to become the only person to win FIFA World Player of the Year, European Footballer of the Year and African Footballer of the Year in one season (1995). He used his popularity as a sports figure to help child soldiers lay down their weapons, and his influence in Liberia, one of Africa’s most corrupt and dangerous nations, was a factor in bringing down the bloody dictatorship of Charles Taylor, presently on trial at the Hague for international war crimes.
When Weah made a move to run for president, he became a lightning rod for his opponents; his mansion was burned and members of his family were raped. He lost the election in 2005. When the laws of the country subsequently were changed so a candidate was required to have a college degree, Weah, who never went to college, spent the past few years earning one in the U.S. and is gearing for another presidential run.
Mulroney, along with producing partners Tharita Cutulle and Rainier Negri, recently secured a deal for Weah’s life rights after making a final presentation to him at his Miami home.
The actor already has an interest in African affairs — he was a producer on “God Grew Tired of Us,” a 2006 documentary on the Sudanese Lost Boys — and is an avid soccer fan, and Weah’s history grabbed him.
The next step for project is to find a writer, and then raise financing for what Mulroney is envisioning as a globe-spanning biopic with political intrigue and soccer drama.
Mulroney is currently editing “Love Wedding Marriage,” which stars Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz, James Brolin and Jane Seymour. The romantic comedy makes the subject matter of Weah’s life a 180-degree turn for him.
“Man can’t live on romantic comedies alone,” Mulroney said. “It was a good starter kit for me as a director. But if I’m actually going to have legs as a director, I need to do the same things as I’ve done as actor: one of everything.”