Fighting With My Family is a heartwarming wrestling comedy from The Office’s Stephen Merchant, based – rather wonderfully – on real-life events.
Here we take a look at the story behind the story…
Fighting With My Family is inspired by the rags-to-riches true story of WWE superstar Paige, real-name Saraya-Jade Bevis. Born in Norfolk, England, in 1992, Saraya-Jade grew up in a wrestling-mad family; her parents Patrick Bevis (ring name: ‘Rowdy’ Ricky Knight) and Julia Hamer-Bevis (ring name: Sweet Saraya) ran the World Association of Wrestling, with Saraya-Jade making her ring debut – as Britani Knight – at the tender age of 13.
A wrestling natural (both in terms of physicality and showmanship), she climbed the ropes quickly, and, in 2011, successfully auditioned for the WWE – the most famous professional wrestling organisation in the world.
Sensing a heck of a story, Channel 4 commissioned a documentary: The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family. Aired in 2012, it introduced the British public to the aforementioned Knights (to give them their collective stage name), as well as Saraya-Jade’s older brother Zac.
An overwhelming success with critics The Wrestlers was less about sport, and more about family, with Zak and Saraya-Jade’s diverging success a focal point...
Who should be watching the very night The Wrestlers aired? None other than wrestling-superstar-turned-Hollywood-big-hitter Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
“It had something special that resonated with me, and I thought it could be turned into a really compelling movie,” the eight-times WWF/WWE champion remembers.
Fast forward seven years and Fighting With My Family – The Motion Picture – is a reality. Written and directed by The Office’s Stephen Merchant (hand-picked by The Rock, who also produces and stars), it focuses on the very human story of Saraya-Jade – called Paige from the off in the movie – and Zak’s differing fortunes, alternating between her ascending star in America and his wound-licking at home in Norwich.
While Dwayne Johnson appears as himself in the film (sending his Rock persona up brilliantly), Paige and the rest of the Knight family are portrayed by actors. Leading lady duties go to the Oxford-born Florence Pugh, while her mum and dad are played by acting veterans Nick ‘Shaun of the Dead’ Frost and Lena ‘Games of Thrones’ Headey (aka Cersei Lannister). Zac, meanwhile, is brought to big-screen life by Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Mary Queen of Scots).
Coupled with the incredible razzmatazz of the WWE (thanks to The Rock’s involvement, the production was allowed amazing access), the result in an underdog comedy to stand up and cheer.
Stephen Merchant sums up what to expect best: “We want to give you unexpected laughs, the fist-pumping thrills of a sports film, the chills-down-the-spine pathos of a true-life drama, plus a few tears, a warm glow, and a unique set of characters to fall in love with, and …Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”
We’ll take front row tickets, please!
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and the cast introduce the film