WASHINGTON - Jesse Owens was an Olympic hero who overcame huge odds to win four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Until now, the story of the African-American athlete has never been the subject of a feature film.
The new movie, "Race," stars Stephan James who took on the seemingly daunting task of portraying the American hero.
"For Jesse, all that mattered to him was running, that was the most important thing to him," James said. "The black or white doesn't matter, he didn't see color. He was color-blind. He made friends with people who looked nothing like him."
James said he spent time with the Owens family while preparing for the role. The family shared stories about Owens as a family man – as a father. After the film was released, James said it was a big relief to know that the family approved of his portrayal of the legend.
In addition to meeting with the family, James needed to condition himself for the role. One thing he spent time on was learning how Owens looked when he took his stance for each race.
The medals in the film weren’t real – they were props. But what is real is the story about how Stephan got his name. It seems that his parents were big fans of the show, "Family Matters" – a comedy starring an annoying teen geek named "Steve Urkel." In several episodes, "Urkel"changed into his alter ego – "Stefan Urquelle." A tweak on the spelling -- and there you have it!
Find out more about the film here: http://www.focusfeatures.com/race
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