The Takedown is a 2-part story streaming on Spotify’s Crime Show that starts off like Rocky, and ends up like Scarface. It tells the tale of Lee Murray, a promising UFC fighter who masterminded one of the biggest and most audacious heists in history. The Takedown was reported by Gimlet Media’s Matthew Nelson (Mogul, We Came to Win) and mashes up the feel of a prestige audio documentary with the amphetamine-soaked energy of a Guy Ritchie movie. We spoke to Matthew to get all the inside information on The Takedown…
Hi Matt, this is your first foray into True Crime – have you always wanted to do a TC podcast, or was it just THIS story?
Honestly, it’s a bit of both. I do watch a lot of the true crime docs on TV, stuff like Making a Murderer, Tiger King (obviously), and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. And shows like Crimetown, Serial, and S-Town are big influences on the kind of podcasts I’ve made, and the things I aspire to make. But most of all, I’m a bit of a heist nerd. I don’t think there’s a heist movie I haven’t seen. And the best ones — Heat, The Town, Den of Thieves (you may laugh, but I think it’s immense), Widows — I know off by heart. The opportunity to make a podcast homage to that genre was really exciting. I wanted to capture the energy and propulsion of these films, but also stay true to the things that make podcasts so great and give the listener time to really be immersed in this crazy world of early MMA and heists.
How do you feel about being described as something out of a Guy Ritchie movie?
HA! For anyone who hasn’t heard it yet, Crime Show’s regular host, Emma Courtland, describes me as sounding like I’m something out of a Guy Ritchie movie. That was mostly because there are a lot of commonalities between Lee Murray’s story and something like Snatch. And also because the aesthetics of those films really informed the sound design we went for (shoutout to Daniel Ramirez and Bobby Lord for mixing and scoring). But, yes, it’s a huge honor. Guy Ritchie has a fine reputation for casting extremely handsome men in his films — Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Charlie Hunnam, and Frank from Eastenders — so I’m in good company.
Who should play Lee Murray in the film of this podcast (and why)?
I asked this question to a lot of people who knew Lee and the most popular answer I got was Tom Hardy. And I think that’s a great choice. He’s been in a film about fighters before (the excellent Warrior), and he’s also in a Guy Ritchie movie (the less-than-excellent RockNRolla).
Do you have any podcasts suggestions for people who want to learn more about this story/London’s underground scene/MMA drama?
Check out anything with Ariel Helwani. Not podcasts but also great: Jon Wertheim wrote an excellent piece about Lee for Sports Illustrated, and his book about the early MMA scene, Blood in the Cage, is phenomenal. Shaun Assael (who’s in the podcast) also wrote a great story about Lee for ESPN. After you’ve read those, you should just re-listen to The Takedown. At 0.5x speed.