Stephan James stars as Jesse Owens in Race

Stephan James stars as Jesse Owens in Stephen Hopkins’ RACE, a Focus Features release. photo: Thibault Grabherr/Focus Features

Stephan James stars as Jesse Owens in Stephen Hopkins’ RACE, a Focus Features release. photo: Thibault Grabherr/Focus Features

Race is a biographical sports-drama film, the first feature biopic film about African American athlete Jesse Owens, who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Directed by Stephen Hopkins and written by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, the film stars Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and Carice van Houten. Glynn Turman as Harry Davis.

Based on the incredible true story of Jesse Owens, the legendary athletic superstar whose quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrust him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faced off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy. Race is an enthralling film about courage, determination, tolerance, and friendship, and an inspiring drama about one man’s fight to become an Olympic legend.

The film stars Canadian actor Stephan James in the title role. James was most recenltly seen in Selma as John Lewis. James got his start in television starring for two seasons in the long-running Canadian teen series Degrassi: The Next Generation. After leaving Degrassi, James played various supporting roles on television, including in the TV series How To Be Indie (2011), My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2011), The Listener (2012), and The LA Complex (2012), as well as the ABC Family made-for-TV movie 12 Dates of Christmas (2011). His breakthrough came when James landed his first major feature film role playing opposite Tatyana Ali and Fefe Dobson in the Canadian film Home Again (2012), in which he played a Jamaican deportee Everton St.Clair. His busiest year, 2014, he played T.K. Kelly in When the Game Stands Tall, Shane Jones in Pride of Lions, William in Apple Mortgage Cake (TV Movie), Donny in Perfect Sisters, and John (ages 16-18 Years) in The Gabby Douglas Story (TV Movie). In 2015, he played Wesley in Lost After Dark and Cummings Shakspear in The Book of Negroes (TV Mini-Series). James was born December 16, 1993, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Stephan James (left) stars as Jesse Owens and Shanice Banton (right) photo: Thibault Grabherr/Focus Features

Stephan James (left) stars as Jesse Owens and Shanice Banton (right) photo: Thibault Grabherr/Focus Features

Jason Sudeikis co-stars as Jesse Owens’ obsessive coach and mentor Larry Snyder, who, after a prestigious track career himself, became a coach at Ohio State University. Snyder coached athletes who set 14 world records and won eight Olympic gold medals. Jeremy Irons portrays Avery Brundage, the head of the American Olympic committee who fought to have the 1936 Olympics take place in Berlin.

The film is being supported by the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group. Principal photography took place in 2014 in Montreal, Canada and on location at Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Initially John Boyega was set to star as Owens, however he dropped the project to star in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and was replaced by James. The Focus Features release runs 2 hours, 14 minutes; is rated PG-13; and opens February 19, 2016. See it soon at your local Carmike Cinema.

See the accompanying Black History Month feature for more about Jesse Owens.