Deadline is exclusively reporting that Gavin O’Connor will be returning to work on the series adaptation of his 2011 MMA drama film Warrior, working alongside co-creator and showrunner Adair Cole, which is in development at Paramount+, and that two-time UFC champion Daniel Cormier and Gina Rodriguez to play two of the four main roles in the series.
The series had been pitched to Paramount+ by Lionsgate Television, with the series getting a ten-episode order, which O’Connor plans to direct and also serve as showrunner on. With Paramount+ now on board, O’Connor and Cole are writing the treatment and scripts, as well as looking to cast the final two fighters and the characters that surround them as they chase their dreams.
Speaking with Deadline, Gavin O’Connor said:
Over the years, I’d been approached by Lionsgate to do Warrior as a TV series and I honestly was never interested. Over the pandemic, I was in a different frame of mind and they said, “Someone came in with an interesting take, Adair Cole,” and I listened to it and liked it. There was some really interesting stuff in there. I started sketching out characters, expounding what he had and gene splicing things and I called him after the holidays and said, ‘I’m in. I think I want to do this.’ We started figuring out the characters. The thing I said to Adair and Lionsgate which wasn’t in the pitch, is that this is about the life fight.
I didn’t want to make something on fighting in a cage. That wasn’t the movie I made, it’s about a life fight. We will have two women and two men, we’re going to follow them through 10 episodes and hook the audience into their journeys and they’re eventually going to face each other. Like in my movie, I tried to challenge the audience: Where are your loyalties? Where do your sympathies lie? Who are you rooting for? If I hook the audience into the stakes of each character’s life outside of the cage, what I call the life fight, then people are going to be invested in the stakes. That’s the heart and soul of the show.
Daniel Cormier will be playing the role of one fighter, who is fresh from an agonising and losing bout his wife had with cancer, his character is not only left as a single father, but with huge debt from all of the medical treatments his wife underwent in a futile effort to save her.
O’Connor also told Deadline that Gina Rodriguez will be playing the role of Jessica Flores, then went on to talk about her character, saying:
She’s married to a Muay Thai fighter, her father is a very well known boxing referee, and she’s been training as a fighter and grew up in combat sports. I didn’t have the role for her written when she said, ‘I’m in. Acting and fighting are my two favourite things. I’m in.’ Her journey is about self-worth, a girl who doesn’t think she is worthy of anything good happening. To get her hand raised in the ring represents her feeling worthy.
While I absolutely loved the original film (made my Top 100 of the 2010’s list), I’m definitely curious to see how the series adaptation will play out. It helps that Gavin O’Connor is involved heavily on the project.