‘Borg/McEnroe’: Transforming the Great Tennis Rivalry into a ‘Psychological Thriller’

By Justin Morrow

TIFF kicked off yesterday and the talent behind Borg/McEnroe sat down to discuss how the film is about far more than just a game.

Danish filmmaker Janus Metz, who made his feature debut with the acclaimed 2010 doc Armadillo, is making his first foray into fictional films, though this one is based on a real-life, world-famous rivalry that changed the sports world in the 1980s. Borg/McEnroe chronicles how in the early 1980s, tennis was changed forever by the rivalry between Björn Borg and brash American upstart John McEnroe, who became infamous for his temper (and acted as an indirect inspiration to filmmaker Wes Anderson.)

But the director said that his film, scripted by Ronnie Sandahl (Underdog) was not just the story of a sports rivalry. According to Metz, “it doesn’t make sense to make a sports movie…unless you have a story,” and while the tennis “had to sell” on screen, as a director he approached the film as a “psychological thriller,” albeit one that was played out (at least in part) before millions of people, in this case at Wimbledon in 1980.

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