Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jason Sudeikis Touts Jesse Owens Biopic 'Race' as Cure to Diversity Woes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jason Sudeikis Touts Jesse Owens Biopic 'Race' as Cure to Diversity Woes

Article excerpt

Sudeikis touts 'Race' as cure to diversity woes

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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. 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. …

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