'You cannot be serious!' Shia LaBeouf to play McEnroe

John McEnroe (File)
John McEnroe (File)

Cannes - Maverick Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf is to play the original tennis rebel John McEnroe in a new film about his rivalry with the Swedish star Bjorn Borg, the producers said Sunday.

"Borg/McEnroe" will follow the two men's epic battles on and off the court through the 1970s and 1980s, the Swedish producers Film Vaest announced at the Cannes film festival.

The fiery American star revolutionised the image of the sport, bringing rockstar petulance to the centre court.

LaBeouf too loves to prick convention, famously showing his contempt for the celebrity circus by wearing a brown paper bag on his head at a red-carpet premiere at the Berlin film festival two years ago.

LaBeouf admitted to reporters in Cannes that until he was cast in the role he had no interest in tennis at all, although he has now begun lessons. Nor is he left-handed like McEnroe.

But he said it was the love-hate relationship between the two men that fascinated him.

"These two men had a whole lot of stuff going on," he said.

"There's 30,000 people in the stands, millions watching (on television) and there are two dudes (McEnroe and Borg). There is something really romantic" about that, he later told Britain's Independent website.

"You don't often see masculine love portrayed honestly," he added.

The actor is at Cannes for the premiere Sunday of British director Andrea Arnold's road movie "American Honey", which is vying for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

The producers said the Icelandic actor Sverrir Gudnason will play the "Swedish iceman" Borg with Stellan Skarsgard -- who co-starred in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" -- cast as his influential coach Lennart Bergelin.

The film will be shot in the autumn in Sweden, London, Monaco and New York.

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