Ben Foster and Stephen Frears Team Up For Lance Armstrong Biopic

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Lance Armstrong suffered the most spectacular fall from grace in the history of cycling, and now a handful of filmmakers are racing to bring his story to the screen.

It was revealed Friday that acclaimed British director Stephen Frears ("The Queen," "High Fidelity") has struck a deal with the UK production house Working Title to make a film about Armstrong, with Ben Foster emerging as the early front-runner for the leading role.

[Related: Alex Gibney's documentary on Lance Armstrong goes to Sony Classics]

The picture will follow Armstrong's story from his fight with testicular cancer in 1996 to his admission earlier this year that he used performance-enhancing drugs, sparking a scandal that destroyed his reputation and cost him a number of lucrative sponsorships.

Foster, the Boston-born actor who bears a slight resemblance to Armstrong, is reportedly in talks with Frears to hop in the saddle. John Hodge ("Trainspotting") is attached as screenwriter.

Foster is probably best known for playing Warren Worthington III, aka Angel, in "X-Men: The Last Stand." He's also starred in "3:10 to Yuma," "The Messenger," "The Mechanic," "Contraband," and "Ain't Them Bodies Saints." Foster will soon appear as influential Beat writer William S. Burroughs in the upcoming "Kill Your Darlings."

[Related: Ben Foster's Biography and Filmography]

The announcement of Frears' new project comes as he's promoting a film for HBO about another controversial sports figure. "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" is a fact-based drama about the 1971 Supreme Court case involving Ali's refusal to enter the military on the grounds he was a conscientious objector.

The Frears/Foster film goes into production as three other projects involving Armstrong are in the works. Earlier this week, Sony Pictures Classics announced they had secured distribution rights for "The Armstrong Lie," a documentary by Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room," "Taxi To The Dark Side"). Gibney had been working on a film about Armstrong's attempt to make a comeback, with the cyclist's full cooperation, when the doping scandal first broke, giving the documentarian a front-row seat to the fallout.

[Related: Bradley Cooper Slams Lance Armstrong Movie Rumors: 'So Nuts!']

At least two other dramas about Armstrong are reported to have the green light. Writer and director J.J. Abrams and producer Bryan Burk are said to be making a film about Armstrong's rise and fall; Bradley Cooper was rumored to be in talks to play the cyclist, but Cooper dismissed the reports as "nuts." Matt Damon, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Christian Bale were also rumored to be in line for the role.

And Warner Brothers and Atlas Entertainment have obtained the rights to the story of Tyler Hamilton, one of Armstrong's cycling teammates who found himself on the star's bad side when he spoke about the team's drug use on "60 Minutes." Jay Roach, who directed "Recount" and "Game Change" for HBO, is attached to the Hamilton film, working from a script by Scott Z. Burns ("The Bourne Ultimatum," "Side Effects").