Film

'Everyone has a story': Watch The Beautiful Game stars explain why Homeless World Cup is so important

Stars of The Beautiful Game explain how the film was informed by real experience in this exclusive Netflix featurette

Micheal Ward and Bill Nighy star in the Netflix film The Beautiful Game inspired by the homeless World Cup. Image: Netflix

The Beautiful Game is the acclaimed sports film that’s captivating viewers on Netflix, following a squad of English footballers as they travel to an international sports tournament, known as the Homeless World Cup.

While the players and the storyline itself are fictional, the football tournament is very real and has been taking place for more than two decades, bringing together people who have experienced homelessness from all over the world.

“The Homeless World Cup has been going for 20 years,” Bill Nighy, who plays Mal, the squad’s manager, explains in the below featurette. “It’s a huge sporting event and an amazing project. So these, characters are informed by real experience.”

The film, which has been streaming on Netflix since Friday (29 March), was inspired by the real-world tournament and not only took inspiration from players who had previously taken part in the World Cup, but also featured some of them on film.

“It’s a very entertaining package,” Nighy continues. “You get the story of the football, and how they’re going to do. You get the comedy, of which there is a great deal. And I think the film goes some way to explode those myths about homeless people.”

Watch the exclusive featurette below.

Watch an exclusive featurette with the stars of The Beautiful Game. Video: Netflix

Starring alongside Nighy in The Beautiful Game is BAFTA award-winning Jamaican-British actor Micheal Ward, who plays Vinny, one of the footballers taking part in the tournament.

He told The Big Issue in an exclusive interview ahead of the film’s preview that the role taught him more about homelessness than he previously understood.

“[Vinny] is living out of his car and he doesn’t want anyone to know,” he told the Big Issue.

“I never used to think about how someone who is homeless got into that situation. But making this film has taught me that everyone has a story.”

Micheal Ward stars as Vinny in The Beautiful Game. Image: Netflix

He echoes his gratitude for the opportunity to star in the film in his interview with Netflix above: “To be able to play a character like Vinny, and be able to tell a story like this, for me it’s, it’s beautiful man. You don’t play for medals. You play for the team.”

The England football squad is rounded out by familiar faces including Callum Scott Howells (It’s a Sin) and Kit Young (Shadow and Bone). But alongside these big British names are a host of former Homeless World Cup players who helped inform production, which mainly took place in Rome last summer.

“This script is so ensemble, there’s a focus obviously on Vinny and Mal,” Young explains in the above featurette. “But this is about the team, and about global homelessness, but also y’know this really special tournament.”

British actress, Susan Wokoma who plays Protasia in the film agrees, adding, “You speak to any players, of which we have loads of in the film, who are actually from the Homeless World Cup. It’s quite clear that this is a really wonderful tool to bring people together.

“And not just that but change lives – as well as being brilliant and heart-warming.”

The Beautiful Game is streaming now on Netflix.

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