Jeremy Irons to Star in Jesse Owens Biopic ‘Race’

As reported by Jeremy Irons .net in February 2014, Jeremy Irons has officially joined the cast of the Jesse Owens biopic Race.

Variety has just published this article with filming updates:

by Justin Kroll
Film Reporter @krolljvar

Focus Features has officially acquired domestic rights to the Jesse Owens biopic “Race,” with Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons joining the cast.

Stephan James will play Owens with Stephen Hopkins directing the pic.

The pic is based on the true story of Owens, the legendary sports 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.

Sudeikis will star as Owens’ obsessive coach and mentor Larry Snyder, who, after his own prestigious track career, became a coach at Ohio State University. Irons will play Avery Brundage, the head of the American Olympic committee who fought to have the 1936 Olympics take place in Berlin.

“Race” is written by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel. The movie is produced by Jean Charles Lévy for Forecast Pictures, Luc Dayan for ID+, Kate Garwood and Stephen Hopkins for Totally Commercial Films, Louis-Philippe Rochon and Dominique Séguin for Canada’s Solofilms, and Karsten Brünig and Thierry Potok for Germany’s Trinity Race.

Jeremy Irons Joins Cast of Jesse Owens Biopic ‘Race’

Jeremy Irons has joined the cast of the Jesse Owens biopic Race.

From Variety:

Jesse Owens Biopic Gets Boost From Family

FEBRUARY 7, 2014

By Leo Barraclough

The daughter of Olympic athlete Jesse Owens, Marlene Owens Rankin, was at the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Thursday to attend the international sales launch of “Race,” the biopic about her father. Variety spoke to her and Stephen Hopkins, the director of the film, whose cast Jeremy Irons and Geoffrey Rush have just joined.

Owens Rankin, sitting yards from the spot where Adolf Hitler watched the 1936 Olympics in which Owens won four gold medals, said the film can deliver an uplifting message to young moviegoers.

The message “is about the human spirit — about its endurance and vulnerability — but also the success you can achieve when you are motivated, and persevere in the face of adversity,” she said. “So, hopefully, kids who are underachieving and who lack hope will be motivated by his life and successes in spite of all he went through.”

The film, which was being introduced to buyers for the first time in Berlin by its sales agent Mister Smith Entertainment, tracks Owens’ progress leading up to the 1936 Games, contending with racism in the U.S. and Germany before his eventual triumph. Up-and-coming British thesp John Boyega plays Owens, as previously announced in Variety.

Mister Smith’s David Garrett told buyers gathered at the stadium that they were in advanced negotiations with Carice Van Houten to play Leni Riefenstahl.

He announced that Al Munteanu’s SquareOne Entertainment, the German distributor and an exec producer, and Canadian distrib eOne have boarded the project. Production will start May 24, and with the pic to lense in Berlin and Montreal.

“It will feel like a contemporary story,” Hopkins said. “It is about a kid from the wrong side of the tracks fighting his way to the forefront to represent his country. It should be something where people go, ‘I can’t believe this ever happened.’

“My dream is to present a real hero,” he added. “Someone who does it because of his need to better himself and to be dignified, but not in a stuffy way.”

Garrett said he likes to think of the project as “Chariots of Fire” on acid.

“It is an unbelievable story that if you had written it as fiction people would have gone, ‘Hmm, nah. That’s too amazing to be true,’ ” Garrett said. “It has so many stratas, whether it is the issues of prejudice and segregation, and then the hypocrisy of it all, and how people are prepared to compromise their views. It’s about one man breaking down so many people’s prejudices.”

Munteanu said, “It was supposed to be the Nazi Olympics, and he upstaged it entirely. It is a story about complete and utter dedication at a time when everything was against him.”

Producers include Forecast Pictures’ Jean Charles Levy and ID+’s Luc Dayan.

Jeremy Irons receives the Premio Eti award in Venice, Italy

And he felt at home in this theater to thrive’


“When I saw the Olympic I felt at home.” No, talking is not a Vicenza, but a great British actor of cinema and theater. Jeremy Irons, who landed in Vicenza yesterday afternoon to attend the seventh edition of the Premio Eti, introduced himself as the press in the meeting held in the afternoon to the Councilor. The English, who received the special award “for his extraordinary ability to combine screen and stage, with equal passion and rigor, and in particular for the interpretation of the character of Antonio in the movie “The Merchant of Venice”, was literally fascinated by the theater. A masterpiece in his life had not ever seen, and that once fell from the car in Piazza Matteotti, and slingshots you to visit.
We did not know where to stop and then we chose a city of Padua or Verona, I do not remember which of the two. In any case, we skipped Vicenza, and we have not seen the theater was really a disgrace. Now that I have visited I can say that it is spectacular. ”

What did it feel when you entered?
The first thing I saw was the door with the wooden structure. Then we went for a ramp and suddenly I found myself inside. It is built with a mix that makes him seem a romantic place of work but also a laboratory for ideas.

Came to mind looking at other theaters?
I immediately thought of the Royal Theater in Bristol, the building where I started and I conveyed the same feeling of Olympus, despite the Royal is a more recent. The spirit of what happened inside the impregnating and that is the beauty you feel the sensation of living. If this theater was used as a museum, would not have had the same fascination. Yet today I felt right at home.

It will then climb an emotion even though for an awards ceremony?
Yes, and I regret not being there to play, even if they are happy to play a few bars of the Merchant of Venice.

If he had to be on this stage his show, which character would have liked to play?
I do not know, because there are different. I could say Prospero, however, I do not speak Italian, and when you go to the theater is important to understand what the actor says. She is a great actor as well as film and theater even in these days in Venice is taking the international exhibition.

Took the opportunity to visit?
No, usually attend the festival only if there are my films in the race. I went to see only the Arsenal, and they told me that the film festival in Venice was a bit ‘disappointing this year.
You know very well the lagoon city.

Can you say what are the differences between the Venice film and the real one?
I am fascinated by this city and I really enjoy talking to people who live there, which is why I consider it alive and real. Certainly, compared to film is no longer a business empire but is the center of tourism.
In addition to acting also approached the role of director.
Yes, over the years my interest has increased. I love to be involved fully in the film and the director is always at the center. I also really like helping others to achieve their performance.

Nicola Negrin