One of sport’s greatest stories is finally getting the big screen treatment.
The life of Jesse Owens, the black athletics star, is front and centre in new drama Race. The trailer for the film, viewable above, stars Stephen James as the athletics star who crushed Adolf Hitler’s notion of Aryan supremacy. Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games in front of Hitler.
Owens’ show of courage and determination blazed a trail for athletes and threw the Nazi-organised games into disarray. The New York Times dubbed Owens “perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history”.
Owens also used his victory in 1936 as a platform to highlight the racial turmoil back in the US. He wasn’t invited to shake Hitler’s hand after Berlin, but he made a point of highlighting that his own President – Franklin D Roosevelt, a Democrat – didn’t extend that courtesy either.
“The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness,” Owens later said.
The Race trailer appears to keep the focus largely on Owens’ Olympics victory, but there’s a story beyond 1936 that’s hopefully addressed in the final film.
After his Olympics triumph, Owens struggled financially. He ended up working as a petrol station attendant. After filing for bankruptcy and being convicted of tax evasion in 1966, Owens’ plight was finally recognised and he was made a goodwill ambassador for the US Olympic committee. He died of cancer aged 66 in 1980.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor John Boyega was once pegged to play Owens in the film, but had to drop out due to his commitments in a galaxy far, far away.
James is certainly no slouch when it comes to the acting stakes. After cutting his teeth in Canadian soap Degrassi, he bagged roles in American football drama When The Game Stands Tall and Selma.
Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, Jason Sudeikis and Game Of Thrones star Carice Von Houten feature in the supporting cast for the film, which is directed by veteran 24 helmer Stephen Hopkins.
Race will speed into cinemas in the UK on June 3.