Jason Sudeikis touts Jesse Owens biopic 'Race' as antidote to diversity woes

TORONTO - Jason Sudeikis says his film "Race" is the antidote to Hollywood's ongoing diversity woes.

The former "Saturday Night Live" comic co-stars in the Jesse Owens biopic as the coach behind the history-making U.S.

See Full Article

track star, whose gold-medal feats at the 1936 Berlin Olympics offered a resounding rebuke to Adolf Hitler's theory of Aryan supremacy.

"This movie itself, not to be overly convenient, is one of the cures towards the ails," Sudeikis said during a recent stop in Toronto to promote the film, set for wide release on both sides of the border.

"This movie was independently financed by Canadians and French people. It stars an unknown black actor from Toronto, a comedian from Kansas. It's directed by a British fellow who was born in Jamaica. This is an international story.

"The third entendre of 'Race' is not just foot races, it's not just black and white, but the human race. It is a profoundly human story."

He notes that work on the film began around the time of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which were marred by their own controversy surrounding Russia's hardline stance against homosexuality.

But Sudeikis said current events in the U.S. add even more resonance: a slew of racially charged incidents involving police, the Black Lives Matter movement and controversy over Oscar's all-white acting nominees.

Sill, Sudeikis wondered why Owens' story had never been committed to the big screen.

"It's bizarre to me that the only film about Jesse Owens that exists prior to this one was made by Leni Riefenstahl," he said, referring to the German director whose Nazi propaganda films included "Olympia," about the '36 Games.

"I couldn't tell you why it came to me when it did and it's been go, go, go ever since. Maybe they were waiting for (star) Stephan James, maybe they were waiting for (director) Stephen Hopkins, maybe they were waiting for this financier. I couldn't tell you.

"But it is a prime example of the kind of stories that are out there for the taking if people are willing to (take a) risk."

James said he scored the role while working on the film "Selma" in Atlanta. Every day the Toronto actor spent his off-hours training with the track and field coaches at Georgia Tech.

"And I'd never ran track before so it was a whole new world for me, a whole new beast," said the 22-year-old, who befriended Owens' daughters while researching the part.

"I had to learn how to run fast - like a sprinter would, of course - but then I had to learn how to run like Jesse because you know his running style was so unique. It was so particular. The devil was really in the details for me to make sure that I was being accurate to exactly the way he did things."

Sudeikis plays Ohio State University coach Larry Snyder, who takes Owens under his wing and refuses to let discrimination at the school interfere with his colour-blind training regime, or Owens' self-esteem.

"As systemic as racism is, and still is, in America and the world at large, he just didn't bother with it," said Sudeikis, better known for comedic roles in "Meet the Millers," "Horrible Bosses" and "Hall Pass."

"He wasn't an activist by any means. Larry was mostly concerned with the athlete. Not the black athlete. He could care less (about race)."

Sudeikis said he hopes Hollywood's diversity debate spurs more high-profile film productions to examine the way they cast and green-light projects.

"People can be sold a lot of things these days back home and sometimes the gamble should not just only be financial but it should be on the stories itself - that's what we feel, I think, on the artists' side."

"Race" opens Friday.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman' heading to Netflix

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s long-awaited mob movie The Irishman is heading to the small screen thanks to a distribution deal with streaming service Netflix. The longtime collaborators, whose previous hits together include Raging Bull and Goodfellas, were first linked to the biopic about real-life union official-turned-mafia hitman Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran in 2008, but production plans with Paramount Pictures executives in 2011 stalled due to scheduling issues. Source
  • Oscars 2017: Andrew Garfield reflects on trading Spider-Man for 'Hacksaw Ridge'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES – In Hollywood – if you’re lucky – when one door closes, another opens up. Just ask Oscar-nominee Andrew Garfield. The rising American-born, British star cut his teeth with dark dramas like David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) and Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go (2010) before landing the coveted lead in the 2012 reboot of Spider-Man. Source
  • Director Kenneth Lonergan reacts to ‘Manchester by the Sea’ success

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Oscar-nominee Kenneth Lonergan reacts to the heartbreaking success of Manchester by the Sea Manchester by the Sea started life as a conversation between Matt Damon and John Krasinski. Damon took the project to award-winning playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, who wrote a screenplay and eventually directed the movie himself. Source
  • Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams spotted singing karaoke in Calgary

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Maisie Williams, a.k.a. Arya Stark, has been spotted in Calgary and Banff over the last couple of days, apparently taking a break from shooting scenes with Alberta wolves for the seventh season of Game of Thrones. The 19-year-old actress reportedly sang karaoke at Ducky’s in Calgary and has visited various areas in Banff. Source
  • David Bowie, Emeli Sande among winners at 2017 Brit Awards

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Brit Award for album of the year has been awarded to David Bowie for Blackstar. It is the latest posthumous honor for Bowie, and the second Brit Award he won Wednesday. His son, film director Duncan Jones, accepted the award on his behalf, noting that his father died the same year Jones became a father. Source
  • David Bowie honours, George Michael tribute top 2017 Brit Awards

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Brit Award for album of the year has been awarded to David Bowie for Blackstar. It is the latest posthumous honor for Bowie, and the second Brit Award he won Wednesday. His son, film director Duncan Jones, accepted the award on his behalf, noting that his father died the same year Jones became a father. Source
  • Judge nixes Lisa Marie Presley's spousal support to husband

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Lisa Marie Presley will not have to pay spousal support to her estranged husband while they fight over her assets, but she will have to pay some of his attorney's fees, a judge ruled Wednesday. Source
  • Skepta, Beyonce and Bowie up for prizes at Brit Awards

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON -- Britain's music industry will salute chart-topping talent and departed icons at the Brit Awards, where nominees include Drake, Beyonce and David Bowie. Bowie, who died in January 2016, is nominated in the album of the year and male British artist categories at Wednesday's awards. Source
  • David Bowie honours, George Michael tribute top Brit Awards

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON -- The Brit Awards recognized big international stars including Drake and Beyonce and a cross-section of home-grown talent Wednesday -- but the ceremony was overshadowed by the much-missed David Bowie and George Michael. Bowie, who died in January 2016 at age 69, was crowned British male artist of the year and won British album of the year for "Blackstar," released days before his death. Source
  • Video shows Harrison Ford's mistaken flyover at airport

    Entertainment CBC News
    Newly released video shows a plane piloted by Harrison Ford suddenly and mistakenly flying low over an airliner with 110 people aboard at a Southern California airport. The 45 seconds of soundless video show the Star Wars and Indiana Jones star's potentially serious mishap last week at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Source