From Rounders to Molly’s Game, movies about poker have proven they can be box office hits. What the poker movie genre seems to be missing, however, are biographical pieces about some of the cornerstones of the game we love.
Well, according to Phil Hellmuth, a film about his life and journey to poker stardom was in the works over a decade ago in 2004 and again in 2007, but a few missing pieces led to the shelving of the film. Here’s a look at what could’ve been.
Star Player Means Star Actors
According to a recent tweet by Hellmuth, The Madison Kid – a film about Hellmuth’s journey to becoming the 1989 World Series of Poker Main Event champion – was in the works.
Ashton Kutcher was committed to play me in “The Madison Kid” (a script about my life) in 2004. In 2007 Hayden Christensen was committed to play me. The movie was almost green lit, we had 43 out of 44 pieces in place, but Hayden was 44th piece and chose to shoot “Jumper” instead pic.twitter.com/GwElYomwBv
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) February 12, 2022
With nothing online to support his claims, we just have to take his word for it. The movie was supposed to follow Hellmuth’s climb to poker fame as a young man in the late-1980s, and one look at Ashton Kutcher circa 2004 shows an uncanny resemblance to a young Hellmuth.
After the 2004 film was shut down for unknown reasons, the idea was picked up again in 2007 where it almost made it into production and onto the big screen. However, a key piece was missing – the actor who would play Hellmuth.
Again, there is no evidence to back up Hellmuth’s claims, but Hayden Christensen surely resembles the young poker phenom, so perhaps his claims are true. Regardless, a movie about one of the household names in poker at the height of the poker boom probably would have crushed the box office.
Perhaps after the events of Black Friday in 2011, with the popularity of poker facing a downward trend, the idea of a biographical piece about poker wasn’t as hot. Given the increasing popularity of poker internationally, it might not be a bad idea to rethink this idea. Some of Hellmuth’s followers thought the same thing.
So why wasn’t this movie brought back years later with a different cast? It’s not like your out of money. People will still see this movie, you could pitch it to Netflix, Amazon or Disney.
— Gregory Samios (@SamiosGregory) February 12, 2022
Clowned By Colleagues
Nothing Phil Hellmuth does goes without notice, especially from his friends in the poker world. Chris Moneymaker was quick to reply to Hellmuth’s tweet poking fun at the claims he made.
This makes no sense. Your movie getting made and them casting you with those good looking guys. My movie they want to cast me with this guy. @HaleyJoelOsment it’s ok I never met him but he seems like my kind of guy and looks kinda like me which makes him sexy AF https://t.co/2s6yEvacx5pic.twitter.com/Z455jSMraf
— Chris Moneymaker ⭕ (@CMONEYMAKER) February 12, 2022
Although it seems like Moneymaker’s being earnest on the surface, he is only making fun. Daniel Negreanu did not want to be left out and had his own fun with Hellmuth’s claims.
The movie about my life “The Toronto Kid” was set to be made but they couldn’t decide on Michael B. Jordan, David Beckham, or Brad Pitt to play me.
All dead ringers and they all wanted it, became such a mess of a feud I canned the film. pic.twitter.com/j0QrqKBpZF
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) February 12, 2022
Negreanu clearly does not believe what Hellmuth said earlier that day, and he had a lot of fun teasing Hellmuth about it. Whether Hellmuth’s claims are true, it’s safe to say that poker fans of all calibers would certainly check out a movie chronicling The Poker Brat’s journey.
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