Jesse Owens Biopic Hires British Actor John Boyega As Its Leading Man

John Boyega
British Actor John Boyega to play Jesse Owens in biopic “Race.” (Jeff Vespa/WireImage)

According to, British actor John Boyega will portray Olympic athlete Jesse Owens in the biopic Race, with shooting set to start in May in Berlin and Montreal. Stephen Hopkins (Judgment Night, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) who will direct from a script by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, said, “John Boyega is definitely one of the most exciting young actors working today and I am thrilled to have him on board to play the iconic role of Jesse Owens in Race.” 

The 21-year-old Boyega stars in Malik Vitthal’s inner-city drama Imperial Dreams, which premiered Jan. 17 at the Sundance Film Festival. He debuted in feature films in 2011′s Attack the Block and appeared in 2012′s Half of a Yellow Sun opposite Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor 

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.

Shooting locations include the actual Berlin Olympic stadium where Owens won the four gold medals. Producers are aiming for a release in the spring of next year.  Race is supported by the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group, and has been been in development for the past two years.  Race is a different project from the Disney biopic about Owens, which has Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) attached to direct.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

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