Many know him best as ‘Barry the Baptist’ from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but the life of the late Lenny McLean was full of incident for many years before that. Which is why My Name is Lenny, a film charting the career of Britain’s most famous, and some would say notorious, bare-knuckle boxer is finally in the making, starring Mad Max: Fury Road‘s Josh Helman as the man they called ‘The Guv’nor’.
The movie is being made by Salon Pictures, who also produced a feature documentary of McLean (The Guv’nor) in association with Patriot Pictures, and has been acquired for the UK by Lionsgate. Principal photography began on Monday and will span a total of four weeks in Islington and Hoxton, where McLean was born.
The story begins with Lenny’s origins in the fight game as a young street brawler in the East End, whilst exploring the effects of the horrific abuse he suffered as a child, through to his career as a bare-knuckle boxer and the brutal trilogy of bouts contested with arch-rival Roy ‘Pretty Boy’ Shaw. These eventually led to his now famous nickname. As well as enjoying success in TV and film later on, he also became a best-selling author.
As well as Helman, the cast also includes Sir Michael Gambon, Nick Moran (also of Lock Stock fame), current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping as Shaw, and current bare-knuckle champion Decca Heggie. Behind the camera, the script has been written by Salon co-founder Paul Van Carter (who also helped to write The Guv’nor), with Martin Askew, who was associate producer for another Guy Ritchie flick, RocknRolla. Directing is Ron Scalpello, who was at the helm for this year’s footballing hit Bobby, whilst one member of the production staff is none other than Jamie McClean, son of the man himself.
As well as being justly proud of his father’s biopic becoming a reality, McLean Jr. clearly believes that Helman is capable of punching above his weight for this tough assignment: “It has been thirty years since someone planted the seed in my dad’s head to make a movie about his life. He never saw that become a reality, and many have tried and failed over the years, but it is with great pride and joy that we are now able to honour my father’s memory and finally tell his incredible story on the big screen, and there’s no better man to take the role of my dad than Josh Helman.”
Shooting also began on Monday, on location in London.