The sports melodrama Race details Olympic athlete Jesse Owens rise to prominence amidst the prejudices of 1930s America and the brewing World War in Germany. Amidst the hate speech both abroad and at home, Owens is able to break through such rhetoric, winning four gold metals in Germany at the 1936 Olympics. Actor Stephan James is no stranger to playing American cultural icons, having previously starred as John Lewis in the Martin Luther King Jr. bio Selma. As Jesse Owens, James ably conveys the moral complexities of a man deemed an ‘American Hero’ yet still treated as less than by his white peers. Race shows the process of how a man becomes such an icon and how through such myth building we can re-craft, re-shape and re-define century old dogmatism, the film itself becoming proof of concept.
In the following interview with James, he discusses his favorite inspirational films, tips to running track and the timeliness of the film given the current cultural climate. For the full interview, watch below.
- Stephan James on his favorite inspirational film – Coach Carter
- On what he discovered about Jesse Owens that he previously didn’t know
- On meeting Jesse Owens’ daughters
- On the balance between fidelity to the person vs. creating his own interpretation of the character
- On what tips he picked up to run track
- On how timely he finds the film given current cultural landscape
- On his most memorable moment from filming