- The incredible stories of the world’s greatest athletes are often turned into movies.
- In 1997, Jared Leto played Steve Prefontaine, a track runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics.
- More recently, actress Imani Hakim portrayed Gabby Douglas in a Lifetime movie about the gymnast.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“When Owens finished competing, the African-American son of a sharecropper and the grandson of slaves had single-handedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy,” ESPN’s Larry Schwartz reported.
Stephan James won a Canadian Screen Award for best actor for his portrayal of Owens in “Race.” He told Olympics.com in 2017 that he trained with track coaches twice a day for three months to copy Owens’ style.
“I had to train exactly like he did in 1933. Jesse Owens did not have the luxury of all the technology of today… And he wore shoes with two inch nails in the bottom and he was running in dirt,” he said.
By the end of filming, James could run 100 meters in 12 seconds.
“Eventually I was running like him so much I didn’t know if there was any other way to run,” he added.
To prepare for the role, O’Connell trained for four to five hours a day in the weeks leading up to shooting, according to Deadline. O’Connell was also equipped with nutritionists and physiotherapists to help him play the part of a 1930s Olympic athlete.
“I knew straight away nutrition was going to be first and foremost,” O’Connell’s trainer Greg Smith told Deadline in 2014. “We had to get him up to speed with a proper diet. Training-wise, we avoided too many heavy weights — because that would have caused [an] injury — and focused instead on his core and endurance.”
The film, for which Robbie earned a best actress nomination at the 90th Academy Awards, follows Harding’s life leading up to the Olympics as she navigates her success and the scandal.
Robbie learned to ice skate for the role. According to ESPN, she worked with skating choreographer Sarah Kawahara for three months, four times a week, to learn how to portray Harding. In order to nail the more complicated tricks needed for the movie, they enlisted the help of body doubles who could look like Robbie and perform the complicated choreography.
“Margot took to skating,” Kawahara said. “It requires a lot of repetition, hours, and hard work. She has a great work ethic.”
In a 2014 interview with Black Film, Hakim talked about the skills needed to audition for the role and the training she had to do in order to portray the gymnast on screen.
“Originally they wanted someone who had gymnastics and dance abilities and I didn’t really have either of those, although I could dance a bit,” she said. “They did work on those aspects with me, which included training. Going into the audition, it wasn’t as important as the acting ability. After booking the role, we did weeks of training and learning all the choreography on the floor and other things.”
Egerton’s portrayal of Eddie the Eagle is practically indistinguishable from the real athlete at times, though the actor had never even skied before landing the role.
“I learned how to ski for ‘Eddie the Eagle.’ I never skied before,” he told the Associated Press in 2016. “So I had to go out to Germany a couple of weeks early and make sure I could ski. Ski jumping, no, because it’s so dangerous that we had to get some professionals to do it for us. But they were very good. Crazy. You’ve got to be crazy, right?”
“Chariots of Fire” was highly successful and was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It won four, including best picture and best original screenplay.
To prepare for the role, Charleson, who like his costar Ben Cross was not a runner, began running 5 miles (8km) every morning around London’s Hyde Park, according to the New York Times. The actors also worked with a professional coach to properly display the running style of the time.
Leto played him in 1997’s “Prefontaine.”
“Jared was very interesting in the way that he totally devoted himself,” director Steve James told the Daily Bruin in 1997. “He trained rigorously, turned himself into a very talented runner. Jared Leto wasn’t a runner before this movie and we’ve had real bona fide collegiate talented runners who couldn’t believe that he wasn’t.”
Leto worked with UCLA head women’s cross country coach and assistant women’s track coach Eric Peterson to train for the film’s running sequences.
According to the Daily Bruin, Peterson trained Leto on posture, technique, and proper running form for the role, but he was careful not to push the actor too far out of fear of an injury.
“You can’t take somebody that isn’t real active on a regular basis and say ‘OK you’re gonna come train for two hours a day, every day,'” Peterson said. “Your body’s going to break down and you’re gonna be injured. That was the thing, that was the balancing act — give him as much work as possible without hurting him, because then everyone’s in trouble.”