Ron Howard's 'Cinderella Man' Opens Today

Cinderella Man, director Ron Howard’s latest work about prizefighter James J. Braddock’s miraculous career comeback, opens today in theaters everywhere.

Featuring an Academy Award-winning team comprised of producer Brian Grazer, director Ron Howard, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and actors Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) and Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Cold Mountain), Cinderella Man tells the quintessentially American story of a man who was not so much a great boxer as a great man who boxed his way out of darkness and defeat and into the stuff of immortality.

The story begins when Braddock (Crowe)—once full of promise—is forced into retirement from boxing after a run of bad luck, just as America itself slides into the most difficult economic times the nation has ever known. Facing imminent poverty, Jim wants only to do right by the woman who has always been his source of strength—his feisty wife Mae played by Renée Zellweger. After taking a string of dead-end dock jobs that only seem to leave him poorer, Jim gets an out-of-the-blue, last-ditch shot to fight in Madison Square Garden—and more importantly, a chance to put some food on the table for those he loves. Thanks in part to a powerful hook developed during countless hours of dock work, Braddock stuns the crowd and the media by knocking out his rising-star opponent. His career re-ignited, Braddock starts to dig his family out of their hole – a victory-by-victory process that eventually leads him to a match against world heavyweight champ Max Baer, a cocky powerhouse of a fighter with a punch so lethal he has already killed two men in the ring.

Says director Ron Howard: “The story of Jim Braddock continues to be so incredibly stirring because it is a tale that reminds us of just how remarkable human endurance and the power of love can be. Cinderella Man is a true American story about what it’s like to cope in the moment, facing life’s daily hardships, and to continue to passionately strive toward a goal—even a simple one like putting food on the table—no matter what the outcome turns out to be. It’s that kind of story, that kind of cinematic journey that has always intrigued me as a filmmaker.”

“For me, Cinderella Man is the story of how one family survived the Depression,” says Crowe, whose earlier portrait of a Roman general turned arena fighter in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator won the Academy Award for Best Actor. “Braddock went on with his life after boxing, bringing up his family, working for a living, loving his wife and watching his children grow and his grandchildren born and in 1974, dying in the house he bought with the winnings from that fight way back in 1935. I took his legacy to heart. I wanted people to hear this true American story.”

Joining Crowe and Zellweger in bringing the core of Jim Braddock’s story to life are a group of lauded actors including Craig Beirko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine, and Paul Giamatti as Jim Braddock’s savvy and loyal manager, Joe Gould.

Other cast members include composer Thomas Newman, costume designer Daniel Orlandi, co-executive producer James Whitake, associate producers are Louisa Velis and Kathleen McGill, editors Mike Hill and Dan Hanley, production designer Wynn Thomas, director of photography Salvatore Totino, and executive producerTodd Hallowell.

Cinderella Man is produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Penny Marshall, with story by Cliff Hollingsworth.

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