'Pele' Biopic Nets Vincent D'Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro and Diego Boneta (Exclusive)

The Hollywood Reporter
'Pele' Biopic Nets Vincent D'Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro and Diego Boneta (Exclusive)
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'Pele' Biopic Nets Vincent D'Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro and Diego Boneta (Exclusive)

The story of the greatest footballer in the world is getting underway, with Vincent D’Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro, Diego Boneta, Colm Meaney and Seu Jorge lacing up for Pele, the biopic of the Brazilian soccer superstar.

Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures are behind the production, with the latter fully financing the film having licensed Pele’s life rights from Sports Licensing International B.V.

The inspirational sports drama is written and being directed by Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist.

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Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Seine Pictures’ Ivan Orlic, Kim Roth, and  Colin Wilson are producing. Santoro will associate produce.

Pele is described as an origin story, telling Pele’s rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to becoming the people’s hero to then a 17-year-old player who scored the winning goal in Brazil’s first ever World Cup victory in 1958. 

D'Onofrio is in final negotiations to play the Brazilian team’s World Cup coach Feola, and Boneta will play Jose, Pele’s arch rival and responsible for giving him the nickname ‘Pele’ when they were children. Santoro's role is being kept under wraps

Jorge is playing Pelé’s father, Dondinho. Meaney will play the role of Coach Raynor, the Swedish World Cup coach.

And Pele? The superstar will be played by two neophyte actors. Kevin de Paula will (slide)tackle him from ages 13 to 17 while Leonardo Lima Carvalho will play him at age 10. 

Also in the cast are Brazilian actors Marianna Nunes, Milton Goncales, Rafael Henrique, Marcus Vinicius, Julio Levy, Thelmo Fernandes, Felipe Simas, Charles Myara, Jerome Franz, and Roger Haag.  

Production began this week on location in Brazil.

Domestic rights for the film are jointly repped by CAA and WME. Exclusive Media is handling international sales.

Pele, Paul Kemsley and Exclusive Media are exec prouducing.

D’Onofrio, for 10 years the star of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, next appears in Escape Plane with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is repped by ICM Partners and Silver Lining Entertainment.

Santoro, one of Brazil’s big exports, next stars as Xerxes as 300: Rise of an Empire and will be seen in Jane Got a Gun. Santoro is repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Boneta, repped by Gersh and Hansen Jacobson, starred in Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise and appeared in TV’s Pretty Little Liars and 90210.

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