EXCLUSIVE: While Anthony Mackie won’t be at the finish line for Dan Pritzker’s Bolden film, the actor has a passion project of his own that he is about to shop to distributors. The Captain America: The Winter Soldier co-star badly wants to play Jesse Owens, the sprinter whose four gold medal performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics infuriated and demoralized Adolf Hitler and put the lie to his theory that the Germans were the superior race. Mackie got together with his We Are Marshall writer Jamie Linden, and together they are producing an Owens film that was scripted by George Olson under their supervision. With longtime manager and producing partner Jason Spire from Inspire Entertainment, they will shortly shop the script in hopes of fast tracking a feature that will focus on the run-up to the 1936 games, and the profound impact that the performance by Owens had on the world. Hitler refused to shake his hand, and the racism evident in the U.S. meant that FDR wouldn’t do it in public, either.
Mackie enters a crowding race to make a feature on Owens, who to this point was only the subject of an Emmy-winning 1984 telepic. Disney is developing a movie based on the Jeremy Schaap book Triumph, with The King’s Speech scribe David Seidler scripting a full scale biopic; another Owens film has Stephan James poised to star for Stephen Hopkins, with Focus Features eyeing the project as distributor.
Mackie next stars in the John Hillcoat-directed Triple Nine and then in the Sony Christmas Eve comedy that Jonathan Levine will direct with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He expects to film the Owens film later this year in Germany.