R&B singer Usher looks to make his return to the big screen after an eight-year hiatus. The superstar will be featured in the upcoming boxing film Hands of Stone, about the life of legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran. In the movie, Usher will portray iconic fighter Sugar Ray Leonard.
The cast also includes Robert DeNiro as Duran’s Hall of Fame trainer, Ray Arcel. Edgar Ramirez, who starred in Zero Dark Thirty, will play Duran. The biopic will feature scenes depicting the “Brawl in Montreal,” the first fight between Duran and Leonard and the infamous “No mas” fight from New Orleans.
“It’s an incredible story to be told,” he said in an interview with Billboard. “The metaphor of determination and struggle is one we can all relate to.”
Usher said he has had long conversations with Leonard and will meet him in person in coming weeks.
“He had such incredible discipline, and he was flashy and classy at the same time,” said Usher, who’s also studied videos from Leonard’s career. “I want to be as passionate and dedicated in preparing for this role as he was every time he stepped into the ring.”
Currently in pre-production, the movie is scheduled to be released in 2014. Usher has been preparing for the part since last year and still has 25 pounds to lose before filming begins in Panama this October.
“You couldn’t find a more stylized boxer than Sugar Ray Leonard,” said Usher. “He was an incredible motion guy, the way he moved around the ring; I think my dancing will make it easier for me to pick up his moves. I’ve been working on familiarizing myself with the ring, sparring and just understanding how to move in the ring.”
Hands of Stone will be the latest in a long line of films about the “sweet science.”