Next Goal Wins tells the story of Thomas Rongen and the American Somoa national football team. Speaking at TIFF, Rongen jokingly revealed why Taika Waititi cast Michael Fassbender and not Russell Crowe to play him.

During Next Goal Wins' premiere at TIFF on September 10, Rongen took the stage. The real-life inspiration for the film joked that Waititi called him and said (via Jeff Sneider), “I wanted my fat bastard friend Russell Crowe to play you but he can't run anymore so I got Michael Fassnbender.”

Previously, Waititi had worked with Crowe on Thor: Love and Thunder. In the film, Crowe played Zeus in the MCU (a washed-up version of him at that).

In Next Goal Wins, Fassbender plays Rongen, who is tasked with turning around the American Samoa team. The team is one of the worst football teams in the world and it's up to Rongen to turn them into a formidable team.

Aside from Fassbender, Oscar Kightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rahcel House, and Beulah Koale star in the film. Will Arnett, Elisabeth Moss, Luke Hemsworth, and Kaitlyn Dever also star in the film.

Taika Waititi is an Oscar-winning director. His 2019 film Jojo Rabbit landed six Oscar nominations, including a Best Adapted Screenplay win for Waititi. He's also known for What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Thor: Ragnarok.

Thomas Rongen previously won the Coach of the Year award in the MLS's first season. He coached a ton of teams including his one-year stint with American Samoa in 2011. Even if Oscar-winner Crowe couldn't play him, Oscar-nominee Michael Fassbender isn't a bad replacement.