Pep - What We Know So Far

A biopic about Connecticut boxing legend Willie Pep titled "Pep" is finally set to begin filming, following a years-long campaign to acquire funding for the passion project of lead actor James Madio.

The Hartford Courant reports that Madio and screenwriter Steve Loff have been trying to gain traction on "Pep" since early 2008 when Loff noticed the resemblance between Madio and the legendary featherweight boxer. Beyond that, the story of Pep has been one that filmmakers have been trying to capture for decades, as Loff told a room of potential investors. A former Pep project once had Al Pacino attached to the lead role, and another had a partnership with HBO Sports.

While Madio and Loff's attempts to bring Pep's story to the screen have seen some setbacks, Deadline reports that the project will begin filming in October 2021, finally putting things in motion. Here is everything we know about the release date, cast, and plot of the upcoming boxing movie and biopic "Pep."

When is Pep's release date?

Since "Pep" is only just heading into filming, the producers have not announced an official release date. However, thanks to the very public fundraising campaign the movie's producers undertook to finance the project, they have given out some general timelines that might tell fans when they can expect to see the film.

While James Madio and Steve Loff were raising funds for "Pep" in May 2019, they spoke with the Hartford Business Journal about a tentative release schedule for the film. At that point, their plans to shoot the previous winter had fallen through, so their new intention was to open a film office the following August with hopes to begin shooting in the fall of 2019, optimally during October or November.

The filmmakers also spoke with the Hartford Courant around the same time and confirmed that if they hit their October or November filming dates, they would then try and take the film to major film festivals in 2020 and then shoot for a full release in 2021.

While the 2019 start date never happened, Deadline has confirmed that "Pep" will begin filming in October of 2021, putting the film exactly two years behind. If the production keeps the same schedule as they originally intended, this would mean that "Pep" will likely arrive in 2023.

Who is in the cast of Pep?

As noted, "Pep" is a longtime passion project for actor James Madio, who will be playing the lead role of Willie Pep. Madio is a film and television veteran who started his career as a child actor, appearing in films such as "Hook" and shows like "Doogie Howser, M.D." He also had a prominent role in "Band of Brothers," playing another historical figure, paratrooper Frank Perconte.

While a complete cast list has not been released, a couple of the key cast members were announced by Deadline. These include Keir Gilchrist, who will play Pep's son, Billy Jr., who struggles with drug addiction. Gilchrist is best known for his work on "Atypical," where he plays the lead role of Sam Gardner, a young man on the autism spectrum.

In addition, Ron Livingston joins the film as Bob Kaplan, Pep's longtime friend, and business manager. Like Maddio, Livingston is a veteran actor who had a prominent role in "Band of Brothers," where he played Captain Lewis Nixon. Beyond that, Livingston is perhaps best known for playing the lead in "Office Space" and currently stars in "Loudermilk."

What is the plot of Pep?

Willie Pep is considered one of the greatest featherweight boxers of the modern era, and ESPN placed him in fifth place on their list of the greatest boxers of all time. His career spanned more than two decades, and his story includes terrifying moments such as a near-fatal plane crash in 1947 and a legendary round that he won "without throwing a punch," although ESPN disputes that claim.

However, Deadline reports that the story that "Pep" will tell starts at the twilight of that career, beginning in 1965, when Pep was 42. At that point, Pep lived in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut, with his much younger wife, a son dealing with drug addiction issues, and his aging parents.

Pep faces looming debt and can't help but reflect on the past that brought him fame and fortune before deciding to return to the ring and mount a comeback. While The New York Times notes that Pep never won another championship after returning to the competition, it will be interesting to see how "Pep" chooses to portray this pivotal time in the boxing legend's life.