The Jesse Owens revival has officially begun. According to published reports there are not just one but TWO upcoming biopics on the American Olympic hero coming to the big screen.
According to sources Anthony Mackie and Stephan James will star as Owens in separate biopics. Mackie is looking to produce and star as Owens biopic that was written by George Olson. Along with his longtime personal manager Jason Spire of Inspire Entertainment, the duo and Jamie Linden will shop the script in the hopes of getting the film into production sooner rather than later.
Mackie’s Owens film will focus on his entrance to the 1936 Olympics, his impact after his performance, and the racism he faced, not only with Hitler, but with those in the United States. Earlier this year, Mackie starred as The Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will star along a bevy of actors in John Hillcoat’s Triple Nine.
Meanwhile, James will be replacing John Boyega as Owens in the biopic Race. Boyega left the project due to his upcoming role in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII.
Race will focus on how Owens, the son of an Alabama sharecropper, shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning a record four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 400-meter relay. Owens’ victories are considered among the greatest atlhetic feats of all time.
Hitler had insisted Jews and Blacks not be allowed to participate in the games, but relented when threatened with a boycott. He shook hands only with the German victors on the first day of competition and then skipped all further medal presentations.
The Canadian born James is currently in production for Ava DuVernay’s MLK biopic Selma, playing the role of civil rights activist John Lewis. His previous credits include roles in the Lifetime TV film The Gabby Douglas Story and Sudz Sutherland’s Home Again, where he received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Race is supported by the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group. It has been been in development for the past two years. The film will be directed by Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) from a script by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel.