EXCLUSIVE: Eros STX’s Stephan James and J.K. Simmons sports drama National Champions is expanding its thespian team roster with Uzo Aduba, Alexander Ludwig, Andrew Bachelor, David Koechner, Tim Blake Nelson, and Timothy Olyphant.
Based on Adam Mervis’ play of the same name which he’s also adapting, National Champions explores the big business of college sports and tells the story of a star quarterback (James) ignites a player’s strike 72 hours before the biggest game of the year to fight for fair compensation, equality, and respect for the athletes who put their bodies and health on the line for their schools.
Aduba will play Katherine, the outside counsel to the NCAA in the Ric Roman Waugh-directed feature. Ludwig will play Emmett, a tight end who joins forces with James’ character as they fight for fair compensation of college athletes just days before the biggest game of the year. Bachelor will play Taylor, one of the college football team’s boosters. Koechner will play Everly, one of the conference heads. Nelson will play Rodger, the wild, funny car dealer who is the head of the team’s booster club. Olyphant will play Elliott, a hipster professor at the college.
Pic, which is rolling cameras this month in New Orleans, is produced by Basil Iwanyk and Brendon Boyea of Thunder Road and Greg Economou of game1. Jonathan Fuhrman of Thunder Road, Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor of Bondit Media Capital, Christian Mercuri of The Capstone Group, Michael Smith, and Mervis are executive producers.
National Champions is fully financed by BondIt Media Capital and The Capstone Group. CAA Media Finance Group and Range Media Partners brokered the deal.
“Our filmmakers are assembling a truly remarkable cast of engaging and talented actors for this film,” said STXfilms Motion Picture Group chair Adam Fogelson. “National Champions is a compelling and timely story that plays on many levels and with this outstanding cast and our talented team of filmmakers, we have every confidence we have a winning team in place on this film.”
Three-time Emmy winner Aduba stars in the fourth season of HBO’s In Treatment, which will center around her character, Dr. Brooke Lawrence. She will also star alongside Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren and four other outstanding actors in Amazon Studios’ new anthology series Solos. Aduba also recently signed a multi-year producing deal with CBS Studios, where she is set to star in and executive produce Low Country. She is represented by UTA, Management 360, and Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham.
Ludwig landed a global recording deal with BBR Music Group/BMG and announced his self-titled debut country EP due out May 21. Upcoming, he will star as the lead opposite Stephen Amell in the wresting drama Heels, set to premiere August 15 on Starz. Ludwig has also wrapped production on the Ivy League rowing drama Swing opposite Michael Shannon and Charles Melton. This follows his role in Bad Boys for Life alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Ludwig is repped by Untitled Entertainment and UTA.
Bachelor will reteam with Waugh after starring for the director in Greenland. He recently started opposite Ed Helms and Taraji P. Henson in the Netflix film Coffee and Kareem and can next be seen in Deon Taylor’s The House Next Door and Don’t Fear. He is represented by UTA, Bach Enterprises and Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman.
Anchorman franchise star, The Goldbergs and SNL alum Koechner will next appear as a host of Season 2 of A&E’s America’s Top Dog. He is represented by UTA and Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman.
Nelson’s upcoming projects include roles in the feature Old Henry and Netflix’s television series Lost Ollie. He will also voice a role in Guillermo del Toro’s adaption of Pinocchio. He is represented by UTA, Gateway Management, and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette & Feldman.
Two-time Primetime Emmy Deadwood and Justified nominee Olyphant will next star opposite Melissa McCarthy in The Starling and in the next film from David O. Russell. He is represented by UTA.