The unique relationship between Mike Tyson and director James Toback is central to the success of Tyson, allowing an extraordinarily frank monologue from the disgraced former boxing champion which drives the new documentary about his turbulent life and times.
The friendship between the two men stems from the fact each found the other to be a mirror image, if not, of course, in a physical sense. They could rely on each other for frank assessments and shared experience. In the mid -Eighties, Toback, a heavy drug user at the time, attended orgies at the house of Jim Brown. Brown was the great American footballer of the era and Toback ended up living with him for two years.
Tyson, not yet 18 but well on his way to becoming the youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world, visited Brown at his house in the Hollywood Hills and heard of Toback, the only white guy at these legendary orgies. As Toback recalls of his first meeting with the self-styled (and undisputed) ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’: “He was fascinated about my version of the details of what went on at Jim Brown’s house. This led to discussions about sex, crime, madness, death – all the things that both of us were interested in.”
Tyson hadn’t done drugs up to that point but was haunted by the spectre of going insane at some point in the near future. As we all know, his fears came to pass. The film was shot immediately after Tyson’s most recent release from a stint in rehab. “He was on automatic pilot and the days we spent filming felt like a stream of consciousness quasi-psychoanalytic journey into himself, his memory, his past,” says Toback. “For Mike, it was a withdrawl from the frenzy of drinking, getting high and running around.” Brutally honest, surprisingly thoughtful and predictably disturbing at turns, this really is Tyson as never seen before. Out 27 March Watch the trailer here.