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‘I felt like I was David Beckham’s therapist’: Inside the making of Netflix’s new documentary ‘Beckham’

Director and ‘Succession’ star Fisher Stevens assumed David Beckham was a ‘shallow person without much to say’, he tells Louis Chilton. More than 30 hours of interviews with the superstar for a new Netflix documentary convinced him otherwise

Wednesday 04 October 2023 14:42 BST
<p>Becks and the city (of Manchester): The midfielder’s wonder goal is relived in the new Netflix documentary ‘Beckham’</p>

Becks and the city (of Manchester): The midfielder’s wonder goal is relived in the new Netflix documentary ‘Beckham’

For three decades, David Beckham has lived his life in the scope of a camera. Since he made his footballing debut for Manchester United in 1992, images of the generational England winger have seared themselves onto our national psyche. Beckham in 1996, arms in the air at 10 and two, having just walloped the ball in from the halfway line. Beckham at the World Cup in 1998, prone on the ground, kicking out at Diego Simeone in a red card-soliciting act of petulance. Beckham and his bride Victoria in 1999, sat on twin thrones at their lavish celebrity wedding. Beckham in 2003, wound across his eyebrow, after a rumoured fight with Sir Alex Ferguson, in which the Man U manager was said to have launched a boot at him. Beckham in 2012, rebuilt and re-embraced, speeding up the Thames with the Olympic torch. He is a man of moments. Such is the stuff from which icons are made.

But Beckham is more than just these images. Netflix’s new four-part documentary, Beckham, attempts to chart the inner life of the ex-footballer: the ups and downs of his marriage to Spice Girls singer Victoria Beckham; his private fears; and – still in some ways underestimated to this day – his rare, brilliant sporting talent.  “It’s a love story, and a story of fathers and sons,” Fisher Stevens, Beckham’s director, tells me. “A boy from humble means in east London falls madly in love with football, then falls madly in love with a woman, and then falls madly in love with his family, and falls out with his father figure.” It almost has the air of a Greek tragedy – and I don’t mean the 2001 World Cup qualifier.

Beckham follows its subject’s journey from child prodigy to sporting sensation to global celebrity. We see his glory in Manchester, his big-money move to Spain, his sensational switch to MLS, when the US league was still in its infancy, followed by his contentious return to Europe. The doc goes all the way up to his current role as the president of Inter Miami CF, a position that saw him bring Lionel Messi, the man many regard as the greatest footballer of all time, to the States just a few months ago. “Through it all [Beckham] tries to hold on,” Stevens continues. “Sometimes he’s floating through and sometimes he’s holding on for dear life.”

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