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Shia LaBeouf’s new film, Borg vs. McEnroe, hits theaters today and is currently tracking strong on Rotten Tomatoes at 81 percent. In the project, LaBeouf portrays the titular hero/villain of John McEnroe – depending on your side of the pond – and his legendary rivalry with Björn Borg which transcended mere forehands and backhands.

Whereas actors have attempted to portray athletes in the past on film, LaBeouf faced the added challenge in the fact that McEnroe was left-handed (and LaBeouf is not). The actor admits that even if he had 10 years of prep, it wouldn’t have been enough time to perfect his tennis game.

The director, Janus Metz Pedersen, created a system for LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason where they played tennis without a tennis ball – instead opting for the sound of a metronome to indicate where and when they should swing their tennis racquets.

“We learned it like a dance,” he said. “So, they would play a metronome. There’s no ball, and we would just learn every single point, where every foot, every hand [is placed], and we would just study it like a dance. They would play a metronome and you would know when the ball was bouncing, so the crowd would know where the ball was and the player would know where the ball was based off audio cues.”

Borg vs. McEnroe is in theaters now.

For more film and TV content, read all about the documentary that has everyone talking.

Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.

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