Long before Star Wars: The Force Awakens loomed over Hollywood, snatching some of the finest actors, crew members and director in town, John Boyega had been attached to topline Stephen Hopkins’ Race, a track and field biopic designed to shine a light on legendary athlete Jesse Owens. But when Disney and LucasFilm came calling, the actor simply couldn’t say no, leaving the role of Owens free for up-and-comer Stephan James (Selma) to pick up the proverbial baton.
Penned by Frankie and Alice scribes Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, Focus Features’ Race is to be directed by Stephen Hopkins, marking the filmmaker’s first foray behind the lens in almost half a decade. Best known for his work on Predator 2, Judgment Night and family sci-fi romp Lost in Space, Hopkins’ latest venture is a significant departure from the norm, and it could be the first project in a long time to propel the director – and his stars – into contention for the awards season.
Couple this with the dram’s historic backdrop – the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Germany – and you have one of the more intriguing biopics cramming up Hollywood’s slate. Joining James on the track are Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Games of Thrones‘ Carice van Houten, Shanice Banton and William Hurt.
Stephan James will head to the start line when Focus Features’ Race opens on February 19, 2016.
Based on the incredible true story of Jesse Owens, the legendary athletic superstar whose quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy. “Race” is an enthralling film about courage, determination, tolerance, and friendship, and an inspiring drama about one man’s fight to become an Olympic legend.