Khris Davis Goes From Biff to Boxer for Big George Foreman | Playbill

Film & TV Features Khris Davis Goes From Biff to Boxer for Big George Foreman

Davis' Death of a Salesman co-star Wendell Pierce hosted a screening and talkback for the new film.

Wendell Pierce and Khris Davis Tricia Baron

"I feel like a proud Papa," said Wendell Pierce as he sat down to talk with Khris Davis after an April 31 screening of the new film Big George Foreman, in which Davis stars as the titular boxer.

Of course, Pierce is referencing the onstage relationship he had with Davis earlier this season when the duo starred together in the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman, which made headlines for recontextualizing Arthur Miller's play through the viewpoint of a Black family. Pierce played Willy Loman and Davis was his son Biff.

Davis had actually just finished shooting Big George Foreman when rehearsals for the play began. "I was a little chunky still," he says laughing, referring to the weight he'd gained to portray the 45-year old Foreman for his Heavyweight Title comeback.

Big George Foreman charts the life of the boxing champ from his poverty-laden childhood days in Houston through his second heavyweight championship reign. (And, of course, there's mention of that little grill deal.) Oscar winner Forest Whitaker stars as the Jobs Corps trainer who gave Foreman his start in the ring.

Khris Davis Tricia Baron

Davis completely threw himself into the role for the film, which included, not only some weight gain, but boxing training, too. Those punches in the film were making contact, and some of the men playing Foreman's boxing opponents were actually current professional boxers—including Cedric Boswell as boxing legend Sonny Liston and Charles Brewer, Jr. as Michael Moorer. Davis says he took one hit so hard that you can even see his eyes start to roll back in his head, exclaiming to Pierce: "Yeah buddy! That was real!"

Davis' dedication to the role wasn't just a physical one. During the screening talkback, Pierce asked Davis, "What did you learn from doing Big George Foreman? And what did you learn from Death of a Salesman? And how are they connected?"

His answer: "You don't have always another opportunity to do it right. So here I am, telling the story of Mr. Foreman for the first time ever—if I didn't give it everything that I had, it would be a mistake. This is the one time to do it. And do it right. So, when I came in to doing Death of a Salesman—the first Black family, the first Black Biff—I'm never going to have another opportunity to do that. I cannot cut a corner. I cannot waste time on things that do not matter. Because this is history. It is legacy."

Big George Foreman was released in theatres April 28 from Sony Pictures. Watch Davis in the trailer below.

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