It was supposed to be Tom Cruise. The "Top Gun" and "Mission Impossible" mega star was reportedly set to portray Carroll Shelby in a film depicting Ford's motorsport battles with Ferrari. That was way back in 2013, though, and Hollywood has since moved on. But time is a flat circle, so we're ready to make this thing happen, only now it's going to be Matt Damon stepping into the overalls of our favorite chicken farmer.
According to Variety, director James Mangold has been tapped to helm the as-yet unnamed project. The action will center around Ford and Ferrari and unfold at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. That's where Carroll Shelby and a trio of Ford GT40s shocked the world with a 1-2-3 finish at endurance racing's main event. Ford wanted to beat Ferrari so badly at its own game after Ferrari spurned Ford's bid to buy the company, and Shelby helped put Ford in the winner's circle.
A prior attempt at this production was to be an adaptation of A.J. Baime's book "Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans." Now it appears the plan is to turn that book into a television series for an unnamed network. The new Ford versus Ferrari film will pull its information from different source materials, and the screenplay will be written by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth.
You'll know the work of Jez Butterworth if you've seen "Edge of Tomorrow," "Black Mass," or "Spectre." The director James Mangold has been the man in charge of "Logan," "Walk the Line," and "Cop Land," among a number of other great films. The plan is to have Damon portray Shelby, and Christian Bale is attached to portray Shelby's friend and test driver Ken Miles. The Punisher himself, Jon Bernthal, will play Lee Iacocca.
This is a story that should work well on the big screen, especially with the names attached at this early stage of development. Mangold turned the Wolverine's story into a truly gritty tale with "Logan." That same darkness and grit could bring an amazing pairing of storytelling and visuals to a tale focused on a desire to win.
Everyone loves an underdog, and back in 1966 Ford was just that. Yet the Blue Oval managed to pull off a victory that is clearly ready made for the silver screen.