Director Gavin O’Connor is partnering with Lionsgate for a television spin-off based on 2011 sports drama, Warrior. O’Connor, whose credits also include Miracle and The Way Back, confirmed as much in an interview with Discussing Film’s Michael Slavin on Tuesday.
The reveal for the new show, Warriors, came during a portion of the interview regarding movie sequel prospects where O’Connor expressed having difficulty on “how to do it and make it better than the first one”, adding further on “…I knew if I couldn’t make a better movie, or at least make something that had some kind of artistic merit that’s worth asking people to spend money to go see it, I just didn’t want to like fucking prostitute myself. And so I never was able to…”
O’Connor continued onward, laying the groundwork for the show’s plot and citing that the characters from the 2011 film would be replaced with a quartet of entirely new characters; One character has already been cast by O’Connor with former and retired UFC champion Daniel Cormier set for the role of “Bobby Watkins, who lives in Houston and who is fighting his way out of poverty for his family.”
Here’s O’Connor’s run down on who Cormier’s character is expected to join on screen for the forthcoming series:
“…it’s four characters, two men, two women, they’re all fighters, and they’re going to get into Sparta [the competition from Warrior] and will eventually be facing each other and fighting, and I’m going to get an audience supporting the two girls and two guys. So it’s got the DNA of the movie, but the most important part of the show is that it’s not about the fight in the cage. This show is a drama about the fight outside of the cage. What are they fighting for? Fighting your way out of poverty, to save for your family – I want to deal with things that are going on in the world because I have a character that’s in Dublin, Ireland, in Mountjoy prison. There’s a Muslim girl who’s a fighter, who’s living in her Muslim conservative community outside of Paris. She’s a lesbian and a fighter, and in her community neither one of those are permitted. So you have a woman who’s in two closets almost, she’s got to find a way out of two closets. That’s kind of the idea.”
O’Connor also spoke on the show’s relevancy in terms of current social issues, stating in part, “…There will be characters fighting for something bigger than themselves. We will get the audience to understand and feel deep feelings for the characters before they end up fighting each other, along with the emotional complexity of that. It’s the painful realities of contemporary America I want to deal with. I’m dealing with issues, whether it’s poverty, incarceration, mental health, or addiction; it’s social issues that are important to me that I want to explore in a series, but through different characters.”
O’Connor is reportedly in talks with streamers to shop the series, and says he is penning it with Adair Cole (Visible Scars, Lawless Range), and will serve as showrunner and exec producer, and as director on all episodes.
Warrior starred Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte and Frank Grillo, and centered on the remnants of a fractured family whose youngest sons, having gone on to live their lives seperately following a dark and brutal childhood, are now forced to confront themselves and their past pain as contenders in a dramatic live MMA TV event. The film released from Lionsgate and only scored a little over $23.3 million, but grew to become an endearing cult classic among cinematic fight fans alike, with Grillo riding the wave further with his own lead run on hit series, Kingdom.
O’Connor is also currently in toe with the development of a sequel to his 2016 psych assassin thriller, The Accountant, with Ben Affleck and Jon Bernthal set to reprise their roles as well.