Next Goal Wins is a 2023 biographical sports comedy-drama film directed by Taika Waititi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Iain Morris. The film is based on the 2014 documentary of the same name by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison about Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen’s efforts to lead the American Samoa national football team, considered one of the weakest football teams in the world, to qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
It stars Michael Fassbender as Rongen, alongside Elisabeth Moss, Oscar Kightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rachel House, Beulah Koale and Will Arnett. Filming began in Honolulu in November 2019.
The film is scheduled to premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, prior to its commercial release on November 17, 2023, by Searchlight Pictures.
Dutch-American football coach Thomas Rongen is tasked with turning the American Samoa national team, considered one of the weakest football teams in the world, into an elite squad.
The storyline includes fa’afafine player Jaiyah Saelua, who was the first transgender player ever to compete in a World Cup game.
- Michael Fassbender as Thomas Rongen
- Oscar Kightley as Tavita
- Uli Latukefu as Nicky Salapu
- Kaimana as Jaiyah Saelua
- Elisabeth Moss as Gail
- Beulah Koale as Daru Taumua
- Rachel House as Ruth
- David Fane as Ace
- Chris Alosio as Jonah
- Ioane Goodhue as Smiley
- Will Arnett as Alex Magnussen
- Rhys Darby as Rhys Marlin
- Lehi Makisi Falepapalangi as Pisa
- Semu Filipo as Rambo
- Angus Sampson as Angus Bendleton
- Luke Hemsworth as Keith
- Kaitlyn Dever as Nicole
- Hio Pelesasa as Samson
- David Tu’itupou as Tall David
- Levy Tuiala as Chief Sila
- Loretta Ables Sayre as Rambo’s mom
- Frankie Adams as Frangipani
- Taika Waititi as an American Samoan priest
It was announced in August 2019, that Fox Searchlight Pictures had set up an initially unspecified project that would see Taika Waititi write and direct prior to his obligations to Thor: Love and Thunder (2022). It was later revealed as being a feature film adaptation of the documentary Next Goal Wins. Waititi, Garrett Basch and Jonathan Cavendish serve as producers, with Andy Serkis, Will Tennant and Kathryn Dean as executive producers.
In September, Michael Fassbender entered final negotiations to star in the film. He would be confirmed the next month, alongside Elisabeth Moss entering negotiations to join. In November 2019, it was announced Kaimana, Oscar Kightley, David Fane, Beulah Koale, Lehi Falepapalangi, Semu Filipo, Uli Latukefu, Rachel House, Rhys Darby, Angus Sampson, Chris Alosio and Sisa Grey had joined the cast of the film, with Moss being confirmed. In December 2019, Armie Hammer joined the cast of the film, playing an executive with Football Federation American Samoa.
Principal photography began in November 2019 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and wrapped by January 2020. In December 2021, it was announced that Will Arnett would be stepping in for Hammer, because Hammer was accused of sexual assault by multiple women. The part, initially intended as a cameo, was expanded when Arnett joined. In May 2023, Kaitlyn Dever was announced as part of the cast.
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