According to Deadline, up-and-coming star Winston Duke has been cast as the lead in Backyard Legend, a biopic focused on legendary MMA fighter Kimbo Slice. It’s a huge step up for the young actor with only a handful of credits on his resume.
Until this year, few people would have recognized the lumbering 31-year-old actor if he was walking down the street. He appeared in a few episodes of Modern Family as well as a one-off shot on Law & Order: SVU (as all actors must). There were a handful of other parts, as well. Then, in February, Duke injected his brand of affable gravitas into Ryan Coogler’s Marvel mega-hit Black Panther. As King T’Challa’s rival-turned-buddy M’Baku, Winston Duke stole more than his fair share of screen time. A few months later, Duke managed to make his presence known in Avengers: Infinity War amid a sea of Marvel superstars.
In both cases, Winston Duke proved himself capable of imbuing a character with immense depth employing only the slightest of physical embellishments. The possibility of seeing Winston Duke take the lead for a feature is almost too exciting to stand; especially when the actor is so well equipped to tackle the heartbreaking and inspiring story of Kimbo Slice.
Born Kevin Ferguson, the man known as Kimbo Slice began his career in entertainment competing in illegal street fights that were distributed on YouTube. Rolling Stone once referred to him as, “The King of the Web Brawlers.” Upon gaining immense popularity on the internet, Kimbo Slice made the transition to mixed martial arts, earning a reputation as one of the sport’s most popular combatants. Sadly, Slice died of heart failure at the age of 42, the result of an undiagnosed mass on his liver.
Backyard Legend aims to recapture Slice’s glory in the ring, but it will also focus on the reputedly sweet-natured man behind the intense persona. If there’s any actor in Hollywood who can balance Slice’s towering physical accomplishments with the talent necessary to recreate the man (not just the fighter), it’s Winston Duke.
This isn’t the only big news for fans of Winston Duke. The actor is also set to star in Jordan Peele’s Us.