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The upcoming Jesse Owens biopic Race sounds like its going to be one of next year's most interesting films. The movie will look to depict Olympic and world history in a way that makes it feel significant and immediate to a younger audience. So while it's bound to have plenty of eat-your-vegetables history, under director Stephen Predator 2 Hopkins its also sure to be exciting and maybe a little irreverent. And now the film has added two new faces that couldn't be any more different, suggesting this is going to have a slightly colorful cast.
The Wrap reports that Race has added former Saturday Night Live funnyman Jason Sudeikis, and Oscar winner Jeremy Irons to the cast. They'll be playing off Stephan James, the little-known actor who will be Owens for Focus and Hopkins. Since his departure from the legendary comedy show, Sudeikis has made a good career for himself in features, and last year played the lead in the pot comedy We're The Millers. Irons, of course, needs no introduction, with a list of credits including Dead Ringers, Reversal Of Fortune, Damage and many other great titles.
Irons will be playing Avery Brundage, a former Olympian who became the President of the Olympic Committee and attempted to have the Olympics hosted in Berlin in 1936 despite a time of great danger and upheaval. Irons has played a few bad guys in the past and this sounds like it will be another one of them. Brundage basically visited Nazi Germany, thought it was totally cool, and suggested America should participate in those Olympics despite a looming war. Later he would be instrumental in stripping Owens of his amateur status on a technicality, forcing the celebrated athlete to sit out the 1940's games. It sounds as if this film will concentrate on the '36 Games, but that could very well be a pretty nasty epilogue.
Sudeikis, meanwhile, will be playing Owens' "obsessive coach and mentor" Larry Snyder. Because if there's anything that describes the laconic Sudeikis, with his chilled-out dude vibe, it's obsessive. Did he see former Daily Show goofball Steve Carrel in Foxcatcher and think, "I can do that"? Snyder coached his athletes to fourteen world records. This morning, Sudeikis probably took it easy on the treadmill. A movie like this needs some Wheaties, but Sudeikis kind of seems like Cocoa Puffs.
But he is a name, having starred in the hit We're The Millers and the upcoming Horrible Bosses 2. With an unknown in the lead, Focus is going to make this project seem as commercial as possible. Expect Race to hit theaters sometime next year.