Anthony Mackie (Captain America) will star as the legendary Jesse Owens in an upcoming biopic about the track & field star who won four Olympic gold medals and set a longstanding high jump record.
After Owens made a name for himself as a nationally recognized sprinter at Ohio State, he faced discrimination, as did other African American and Jewish competitors at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hitler tried to bar them from the games because of their race.
Born in 1913, the son of an Alabama sharecropper, Owens was no stranger to racism, and he continued to encounter bigotry even after he brought home the gold. He once said, “When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn’t live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either.”
The screenplay was written by George Olson under the supervision of Mackie and screenwriter Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall).
Two other movies based on Owens’ inspiring story are in the works, including Race, starring Stephan James and Jason Sudeikis, and an untitled Disney film based on the book Triumph, by ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.
Relativity Studios is negotiating to acquire the rights to the project. If all goes as planned, filming will begin in October and the picture will be released in the summer of 2016.