‘Chuck’ Boss Liev Schreiber Reveals What It Was Like To Work With Naomi Watts Through Break-up

For Liev Schreiber, making Chuck was a dream come true and the actor tapped his rarely used writing and producing skills to ensure that every aspect of the Chuck Wepner biopic honored the true story. Casting the right actors was especially vital, and for the role of Wepner’s love interest, Liev could think of only one actress to fit the role: Naomi Watts. There was just one problem, Chuck went into production just as Schreiber and Watts were discovering that it was time to uncouple. Now, the Chuck boss opens up about what it was like to see Naomi every day, all while they went through a heartbreaking split.

In Spite of Everything, Liev Schreiber Still Wanted His Ex for Chuck

Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Chuck
Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts continued to work together on 'Chuck,' even as their romance ended. [Image by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]

If the public break-up between Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts has proven anything, it’s that the former couple is everything the rest of us wants to be with our ex-lovers. As USA Today shares, the actors were genuine when they pledged to remain friends throughout the split, proving their children, 8-year-old Samuel Kai Schreiber and 9-year-old Alexander Pete Schreiber, weren’t the only reasons for Naomi and Liev to keep their friendship intact. It’s not an easy thing to do, but this former Hollywood couple seems to have embraced their new lives, while keeping parts of the old.

After an 11-year relationship, the comfort of their friendship seems to have outlasted everything. It helps that Liev holds a deep respect for Ms. Watts as an actress, as well as a friend. In fact, he was determined to include Naomi in Chuck, and as he now shares, working with her on his pet project was a “treat” as both a producer and as the film’s star.

At first, Schreiber was concerned that Naomi would back out upon learning that stepping into her character would mean a leopard pattern outfit accompanied by fake breasts. The Chuck producer says that wasn’t the case. Naomi took to the role with a great sense of adventure and a dash of good humor.

“She just went for it,” says Schreiber. “I just knew it was going to be fun.”

Liev Schreiber Holds an “Unsafe” Fascination with Chuck Wepner

Liev Schreiber, Chuck Wepner
Liev Schreiber shares his fascination with telling Chuck Wepner's story. [Image by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]

For those who don’t share Liev Schreiber’s obsession with Chuck Wepner, NPR reveals that the boxer’s life was the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s original Rocky. In real life, Wepner hailed from New Jersey, not from Pennsylvania, and he was known by his “The Bayonne Bleeder” moniker instead of by Stallone’s “The Italian Stallion.”

While Stallone changed up some facts for the purposes of adding drama and an element of panache, Liev wanted Chuck to stay as close to the true facts as possible. He felt that the real events were entertaining enough and that Wepner’s life was worth celebrating.

Wepner rose to fame when he was offered the unlikely opportunity to fight Muhammad Ali, the reigning heavyweight champion in 1975. The bout lasted for all of 15 rounds and launched what would have been a promising career, but, as Chuck illustrates, Mr. Wepner allowed fame and a cocaine habit to rob him of that bright future.

“I’m not really a huge sports fan, but for some reason boxing stuck with me,” Schreiber explains. “I was very surprised that I hadn’t heard of Chuck Wepner or that I didn’t know his story.”

Liev felt that the story of Chuck Wepner’s life gives a moral to the age old tale about the effects of fame on the spirit, and he wanted to share that aspect of Wepner’s rise to success. Schreiber says what we all know to be true and that is that we live in a society with an obsession for celebrities.

“And that obsession with fame for fame’s sake is kind of alarming to me. An obsession with celebrity for celebrity’s sake is also — it’s just strange, it feels, it feels unsafe,” said the Chuck producer.

Mr. Schreiber adds that Chuck Wepner’s life is an obvious example of that obsession and its ability to destroy lives. That was something Liev wanted to portray and it’s what makes Chuck such a compelling story.

[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]