William Hurt Joins the Race to Make a Jesse Owens Biopic

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For years, filmmakers have been trying to make a movie based on the life of 1936 Olympic gold medal-winning runner Jesse Owens and the race is accelerating with Focus Features announcing they have scheduled their offering, literally called Race, for April 8, 2016, while adding Academy Award winner William Hurt to the cast.

Directed by Emmy winner Stephen Hopkins (“24,” Traffic), the cast already includes newcomer Stephan James as Owens as well as Jeremy Irons, Jason Sudeikis, Amanda Crew and Carice van Houten, and it’s currently filming in Montreal and will shoot at the famed Olympic Stadium in Berlin where the real-life Owens won four Olympic gold medals.

Written by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, it tells the story of Owens’ quest to become one of the greatest track and field athletes, defying the odds of being a black athlete competing at the advent of Adolf Hitler’s reign as Germany’s leader trying to create a perfect Aryan race for the country. (Spoiler: That racist notion did not end well… for anyone.)

Hurt will play Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, who led efforts to boycott the 1936 Olympics. After winning the Oscar for his role in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Hurt received three more Academy Award nominations, and he will be next seen in The Moon and the Sun, released by Paramount and Focus next April.

Right now, Race would only be opening against Universal’s animated Clifford the Big Red Dog.

The film has the full support of Owens’ family, the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)