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Uzo Aduba and Alexander Ludwig Join ‘National Champions’ Cast at STX

Andrew Bachelor, David Koechner, Tim Blake Nelson, and Timothy Olyphant also set to join cast

Uzo Aduba and Alexander Ludwig will co-star opposite Stephan James and J.K. Simmons in “National Champions,” a college sports drama from “Angel Has Fallen” director Ric Roman Waugh that’s set up at STXfilms.

Andrew Bachelor, David Koechner, Tim Blake Nelson, and Timothy Olyphant also are set to join the cast, Adam Fogelson, chairman of the STXfilms Motion Picture Group, said Thursday.

“National Champions” centers on the big business of college sports when 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.

“Our filmmakers are assembling a truly remarkable cast of engaging and talented actors for this film,” Fogelson said in a statement.. “’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.”

Aduba will play Katherine, the outside counsel to the NCAA. 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.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh and written by Adam Mervis, based on his play, the film will be 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 Adam Mervis are executive producers.

“National Champions” is set to shoot in New Orleans this May and is being fully financed by BondIt Media Capital and The Capstone Group. CAA Media Finance Group and Range Media Partners brokered the deal.

Three-time Emmy winner Aduba will next be seen in the fourth season of “In Treatment,” which will center around her character, Dr. Brooke Lawrence. She will also star alongside Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway and Helen Mirren in Amazon Studios’ new anthology series “Solos.” Aduba also recently signed a multiyear producing deal with CBS Studios, where she is set to star in and executive produce “Low Country.” She is represented by UTA, Management 360, ID, and Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham.

Ludwig 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.

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, The Lede Company, and Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman.

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.

Olyphant will next star opposite Melissa McCarthy in “The Starling” and in the next film from David O. Russell. He is represented by UTA.

Deadline first reported the news.