LAST WEEK Boxing News Online published an article on retired Irish warrior-turned-actor, Seamus McDonagh, and in one section of the interview, McDonagh commented on how he’d invited his friend, fellow Irishman John Duddy to try his hand at acting. Well, Duddy – who cut his teeth as an actor in the Off Broadway play Kid Shamrock in 2011 – has landed himself a dream role.
35-year-old Duddy confirmed to The Irish Independent how he will play Scottish legend Ken Buchanan opposite movie giant Robert De Niro in the Roberto Duran bio Hands of Stone. Duddy, who earns money working for a removal company in The Bronx where he lives, says he does the “honest work” while waiting for acting work to come in. Now, with his scenes in “Hands of Stone” completed – the scenes with De Niro filmed in New York and Panama – Duddy is excited to see the finished product.
Duddy met De Niro on the set of last year’s Grudge Match when he assisted De Niro and Sylvester Stallone with some of the fight sequences, and he admits he was a little star struck when acting opposite him.
“Being in a project like that was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Duddy said of the film that is due for release next year. “In one scene we were filming a news conference when it finally hit me. I’m standing there thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m shooting a scene with Robert De Niro!’”
Duddy says he still gets boxing fans coming up to him, and he is grateful for this. However, the slugger who quit the ring with a fine 29-2 (18) record says his current aim is to gain recognition as an actor.
“It’s wonderful that some people haven’t forgotten what I did in the ring,” Duddy said. “And hopefully, one day, they’ll also remember me for what I accomplished on the stage and on the screen.”
It is also hoped the man Duddy plays – in former lightweight king Buchanan, who infamously lost his title to a rampaging Duran in 1972 – can recover from his recently reported alcohol problems to enjoy the film when it comes out. De Niro, who will play Duran’s master trainer, Ray Arcel, has been working on Hands of Stone for some months now and fans hope the film will be as special as the 1980 masterpiece, Raging Bull.
Perhaps that’s too high a target to set, but Duran’s life story is easily as compelling as Jake La Motta’s and, with a stellar cast including De Niro (below), John Turturro (as mobster Frankie Carbo), Ellen Barkin (as Stephanie Arcel), Edgar Ramirez (as Duran) and of course Duddy, Hands of Stone looks very promising.