Anderson Silva is a superstar mixed martial arts fighter with a sensitive side.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champ soon will tap into his artistic, expressive dimension to expand his brand from the octagon cage to the big screen.
Silva, a Brazilian, will play his most significant American movie role in what is expected to be a $2 million independent film about a single father who fights in an MMA match. Silva will play the dad’s confidante and training partner in “Monday Nights at Seven.”
In his supporting role, Silva’s character, Mateus, helps train the movie’s protagonist, Lazo, played by Los Angeles-based actor Marty Sader. Sader also directs and produces the movie.
Silva has played bit parts in movies before, but this is his first big role.
“It is something I have always wanted to do, it was a dream of mine, and I want to do it well, so I have been taking acting classes in Brazil and in L.A.,” Silva said.
Sports and movies are different entertainment genres for UFC’s longest reigning champion.
“It’s two different things, but in the end you are putting on a performance for your fans, and I really enjoy doing both,” said Silva, 38.
Sader said he has great chemistry with Silva, which made picking the MMA star an easy choice.
FULL FIGHT SCENE
In real life Sader has been training as an MMA fighter, in part because the film’s fight scene will put Sader in an actual full-contact cage bout put on by the Resurrection Fighting Alliance. The RFA develops fighters who aspire for the Las Vegas-based UFC, considered the world’s premier MMA combat sport company.
“We are making movie history with the fact that we’re doing the fight for real. I’m training to fight in the cage,” Sader said. “I’m training, eating, living MMA.”
Noted actor/director Edward James Olmos has signed on as a producer and will play Lazo’s father in the movie, while former UFC champion Frank Shamrock is executive producer.
Sader said the film is not an MMA movie, per se, because the fighting is the vehicle for the love story between a single father of an 8-year-old girl and a woman who enters his life, stirring emotions he hasn’t felt for a long time.
“I’m not making an MMA movie. It’s a love story it just so happens that there’s MMA in the film,” Sader said. “Lazo is a single dad and life has thrown him curve balls. He’s a single dad trying to be a stand-up guy and do the right thing. Most people interpret doing the right thing as getting a job and doing things you hate to provide for your family.”
But the movie’s actor-director acknowledged that fighting is a classic movie vehicle.
“It’s the perfect metaphor. Boxing has been covered really well in films. But mixed martial arts has not been done much so far and I wanted to take a crack and do something fresh and different,” Sader said.
Silva is ideal because the UFC fighter is an expressive artist besides being a cage combatant, he said.
“Anderson was the only person I wanted,” Sader said. “The reason I wanted Anderson is that he is the only fighter I think of as an artist.”
Sader is relying on Kickstarter.com to fund the movie, and hopes to raise $500,000 to begin production in September with hopes of releasing the film in the first quarter of 2014. The campaign started Monday today at www.kickstarter.com/projects/mna7/monday-nights-at-seven.
This is also a big week for Silva, who fights Saturday in UFC 162. UFC Fight Week activities run Wednesday to Saturday in Las Vegas.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at email@example.com or 702-387-5273.