Former football star Ricky Williams is telling his story with a new biopic, titled “Ricky Williams in Australia,” produced by Modern Magic.
Williams will co-write the movie — which explores the former NFL star’s life and year of sabbatical in Australia — with Modern Magic co-founder and Academy Award-winner Rodney Rothman. Rothman will also direct the project, producing alongside Adam Rosenberg on behalf of Modern Magic.
Williams broke onto the national scene during his college football years, where he starred for the University of Texas. At Texas, he was a two-time All-American, won the 1998 Heisman Trophy and set the all-time college rushing record. He also played for 11 seasons in the NFL, spending most of his career with the Miami Dolphins, but the player’s time in the league was unconventional and his football career was cut short when Williams chose to abruptly quit the NFL in his prime.
Off the field, Williams quietly suffered from social anxiety disorder, routinely doing interviews with his helmet on.
“It’s been exciting working with Rodney on telling the story of the most magical and transformative time of my life, when I became more than just an athlete,” Williams said, announcing his involvement in the project. And with the topic of mental health in sports more prevalent than ever, he adds that, “My hope is that people will be inspired to pursue their own unique paths.”
Of partnering with Williams for the project, Rothman said: “Fifteen years ago, I read about a Heisman trophy-winning NFL player named Ricky Williams who’d abruptly quit the pros in his prime and vanished.”
“Nobody knew where he was. Nobody knew how to find him. Months later he was discovered living in a tent in a backpacker’s commune in Byron Bay, Australia, undergoing a strange and transformative experience,” Rothman continued: “He’s a special person, and I’m honored he trusts me to help tell the story of his moving, funny, one-of-a-kind journey, involving Buddha, Kali, Jesus, Marley, football, parenthood, Julie Andrews, Lenny Kravitz and everything in between.”
“Ricky Williams in Australia” is the latest offering from Modern Magic, whose slate of upcoming projects includes an original animated feature inspired by the music of the late rapper Juice WRLD; “Nuevo Rico,” an animated feature based on the SXSW award-winning short film by Kris Mercado; and an offbeat, subversive live action-comedy feature that Quinta Brunson is currently writing for Sony Pictures.