Jeremy Irons didn’t judge Avery Brundage, the character he portrays in Race.
Avery was a member of the Olympic Committee who was instrumental in getting the American team to compete in the Summer Olympics in Berlin in 1936. He fought against a boycott of the Games, which Germany had been awarded before the rise of the Nazi government and persecution of Jews.
There gifted black runner Jesse Owens (played in the film by Stephan James) created history by winning four gold medals, at a time when Aryan supremacy was being discussed in the country.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Jeremy explains that he hopes his portrayal will allow the audience to discover the motivations behind Avery’s decisions.
“I wanted to try to find what man he was, what sort of man he was, and not to judge him,” he explained.
Jeremy personally thought Avery was a pragmatic man and made the right decision in sending the athletes to Berlin.
“I think had he not done it, Jesse Owens would never have won those extraordinary races and made those records,” he stated.
The 67-year-old was keen to join the project as he was impressed by director Stephen Hopkins’s passion for the film.
“It has tremendous tension in it. You don’t know which way it’s going to go. There are enormous pressures on whether he runs or whether he doesn’t run, whether the team goes or doesn’t go,” he said.
The actor believes audiences will find the film an educational and enjoyable experience as he feels the Jesse Owens story isn’t “that well known”.
“I think what it will do is to open for audiences the political problems of the time and the mood of the time and show them that, like with anything, there is no such a thing as black and white,” he stated.
Race hits cinemas from 19 February (16).
– Cover Media