‘Star Wars’ Hero John Boyega to Be Replaced by ‘Selma’ Actor in Jesse Owens Biopic (Exclusive)

'Star Wars' Hero John Boyega to Be Replaced by 'Selma' Actor in Jesse Owens Biopic (Exclusive)

Stephan James is in talks to play the legendary Olympian in Stephen Hopkins’ drama “Race”

Rising actor Stephan James (“Selma”) is in talks to replace John Boyega as Jesse Owens in the biopic “Race,” multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.

Boyega was forced to drop out of “Race” when he was cast as one of the new leads in J.J. Abrams‘ “Star Wars: Episode VII,” which presented an impossible opportunity to turn down.

Stephen Hopkins (“Blown Away”) will direct from a script by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse.

Also read: Focus Features in Negotiations to Board Jesse Owens Biopic ‘Race’

Owens is the legendary athlete who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, shocking Adolf Hitler in the process. Hitler hoped to ban black and Jewish athletes from competing in the Berlin games, though he relented when threatened with a boycott.

“Race” will follow Owens along his journey from Alabama to Germany as he overcame prejudice and inspired millions around the world.

Hopkins will produce with Jean-Charles Levy, Luc Dayan, Kate Garwood, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Dominique Séguin, Karsten Brünig and Thierry Potok, while Al Munteanu from SquareOne Entertainment will executive produce.

Also read: ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Cast: Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega

James got his start on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” before landing roles in “The Gabby Douglas Story” and Tatyana Ali's indie drama “Home Again.” He recently appeared in the Abigail Breslin thriller “Perfect Sisters” and will soon be seen in Sony's high school football movie “When the Game Stands Tall.”

James, who is currently filming the role of John Lewis in Ava DuVernay‘s MLK movie “Selma,” is represented by Innovative Artists and Noble Caplan Abrams.