Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas

The much anticipated film about the life of Gareth Thomas, the first openly gay international rugby player, is set to be shot in South Africa.

In an interview with Sportlobster TV, Thomas confirmed that funding for the film is now in place and pre-production is about to begin.

South Africa will be a main location, along with Wales and France, and producers are hoping to shoot at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Mickey Rourke, who bought the rights for the film, will be playing the role of Thomas.

The former sports star said that the Oscar nominated actor has been “training really hard” for the part.

“He has invested hundreds of thousands into this movie because he cares about the story of my life and he cares about people understanding it”.

Thomas said that for him making the film was not about making money, but was about “acceptance in sport for everybody…

“And it transcends sport. People take courage from my story in all walks of life. The fact I was in sport just made it this big thing”.

Thomas was also asked about the controversies around holding sporting events in anti-gay countries, such as the Winter Olympics in Russia and the 2022 Soccer World Cup in Qatar.

“If I was part of a squad going to these countries – I would go there as a gay man and be the best at what I was doing and prove that their laws cannot stop me at being the best I can be in my sport.

“Athletes can’t have the power to make decisions as to whether to compete in countries where they tolerate homosexuality. They often only have one chance to be the best and they have worked so hard to get there that nothing should hold them back,” he said.

Thomas – a former British Lions captain and the most capped Welsh rugby player in history – came out as gay in December 2009.

He told the Daily Mail that he had struggled to hide his sexuality for most of his life, including marrying his now ex-wife Jemma, making up stories of sexual conquests, flirting with women and becoming violent with anyone who claimed he was gay.

“I was like a ticking bomb. I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself, but I couldn’t. It was who I was, and I just couldn’t ignore it anymore,” he said.

Thomas announced his retirement from rugby in late 2011.

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