Ahead of its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong biography The Program has released a new trailer. Starring Ben Foster as Armstrong, The Program tracks the rise and fall of the cyclist’s career, from his battle with cancer, to his quest to find an edge over his competition by any means necessary, and the resulting investigation that uncovered his doping regimen.
This trailer focuses on the early stages of the inquiry, spurred on by Irish sports journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd), whose relentless pursuit of Armstrong eventually led to the athlete being stripped of his Tour de France victories. The biographical drama was adapted from Walsh’s own award-winning book, “Seven Deadly Sins.” O’Dowd, who’s best known for his comedy work, is tough to take seriously in the role because of his prior performances, but he plays it perfectly straight, as he should.
Whatever lengths O’Dowd went to in order to portray Walsh, it’s nothing compared to what Foster put himself through. In an interview with The Guardian, Foster revealed that he literally participated in the same doping program that Armstrong himself went through:
I don’t want to talk about the names of the drugs I took… Even discussing it feels tricky because it isn’t something I’d recommend to fellow actors. These are very serious chemicals and they affect your body in real ways. For my own investigation it was important for me privately to understand it. And they work.
Like any drug used to affect or augment the body, there are, of course, side effects and complications from withdrawal. Foster addressed this as well:
There’s a fallout. Doping affects your mind. It doesn’t make you feel high. There are behaviours when you’ve got those chemicals running through your body that serve you on the bike but which, when you’re not … I’ve only just recovered physically. I’m only now getting my levels back.
It’ll be interesting to see how this incredibly risky and dangerous form of method acting informs his performance in The Program, which will screen for critics this weekend at TIFF. Let’s hope it all pays off for Foster. The film also stars Lee Pace, Guillaume Canet, Dustin Hoffman and Jesse Plemons.
Watch the new trailer for The Program below:
Here’s the official synopsis for The Program:
From Academy Award® nominated director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) and producers Working Title (The Theory Of Everything, Everest, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), comes the true story of the meteoric rise and fall of one of the most celebrated and controversial men in recent history, Lance Armstrong.
Based on the award winning book “Seven Deadly Sins” by David Walsh, and featuring a stellar cast including Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), this tense and suspenseful thriller looks at how one of the greatest deceptions in the modern era was uncovered while Armstrong convinced the world he was a hero, winning the Tour de France seven times.