The Austin Film Festival announced Tuesday that Lance Armstrong biopic The Program will be its closing night film. Directed by Stephen Frears, The Program covers Armstrong’s “meteoric rise and fall” (from world-renowned Tour de France champion and prominent cancer activist to disgraced doper) and stars Ben Foster as the famed athlete alongside Chris O’Dowd, Dustin Hoffman, and Jesse Plemons. The choice is remarkable considering that Armstrong was born in Plano, Texas, and spent his early life and career there.
In an interview with EW last month, Foster talked about preparing for the role by sampling the same performance-enhancing drugs that Armstrong used.
“When I begin investigating a role, I’m just following leads,” Foster told EW. “It just felt like a natural curiosity, and I was able to get in touch with his nutritionist and a wellness doctor, and I took a calculated risk because I wanted to literally experience what we were investigating on a cellular level. It was something private for me to understand, this ritual … And as I said before, the drugs work. Doesn’t mean I can win the Tour de France, but the drugs work. It shapes your body.”
Festival organizers also announced that Love the Coopers and The 33 will join the Austin lineup, alongside Carol, Brooklyn, I Saw the Light, Youth, and others. The opening-night film will be the Tom Hardy film Legend, and the centerpiece will be the worldwide premiere of Burning Bodhi. The Austin Film Festival kicks off Oct. 29 and lasts until Nov. 5.