• Gran Turismo is not just a video game movie; it’s an inspiring underdog story about Jann Mardenborough’s incredible journey from gamer to real racecar driver.
  • Archie Madekwe was amazed by Jann’s self-motivation and ability to succeed despite lacking support from his family.
  • David Harbour and Archie Madekwe developed natural chemistry in their roles as Jann and Jack, creating a father-son dynamic filled with passion and understanding.

Gran Turismo is based on the incredible true story of Jann Mardenborough. When the film begins, Jann is an expert Gran Turismo player dreaming of getting behind the wheel of an actual race car when Nissan sponsors a competition that makes this dream a reality. After competing in an intense racing boot camp, Jann becomes a real racecar driver for Nissan, but that’s only the beginning as he faces obstacles on the track, including the dangers of racing and fierce competition, but he manages to forever change the sport through his never-ending perseverance.

Neill Blomkamp directed Gran Turismo from a screenplay penned by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin, with the story by Hall and Alex Tse. Gran Turismo stars David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, Darren Barnet, Geri Halliwell Horner, and Djimon Hounsou. Jann Mardenborough, on whom the film is based, is a co-producer and was the stunt driver for Madekwe.

Related: Gran Turismo True Story Explained

Screen Rant spoke with Archie Madekwe and David Harbour about starring in Gran Turismo. Harbour discussed his chemistry with Madekwe and explained his character, Jack Salter. Madekwe revealed that he only learned to drive about a week before Gran Turismo began filming Jann’s journey and had to quickly master the game. Note: This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, and the movie covered here would not exist without the work of writers and actors in WGA and SAG-AFTRA.

Archie Madekwe & David Harbour Talk Gran Turismo

David Harbour as Jack Salter and Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenboroughn in the Gran Turismo movie

Screen Rant: Gran Turismo was an intense ride, man. This is not a video game movie, though video games are a part of the narrative. It’s really a brilliant, inspirational underdog story and the ultimate wish-fulfillment movie about the unbreakable human spirit and resilience. Archie, you are fantastic as Jann. What surprised you the most about Jann’s journey?

Archie Madekwe: I guess how self-motivated he was; how much of it came from self. He really felt like he was just up against the world. He didn’t have the support of his family, and to find the motivation to do that? I’m always in awe whenever I speak to people that can find a way out of situations, just through self. It’s so difficult not having a support system like that when people don’t believe in you, and so I was constantly in awe.

And then the most difficult challenge was just how difficult the racing was. Just to go from a sim into a car and still be able to make those incredible split-second decisions in that insane environment? It’s just ridiculous. It’s incredible.

And it’s depicted so well in this film as well. David, I love the chemistry between Jann and Jack. It’s almost this father-son relationship, where Jack really has an understanding of Jann’s passions. And can you talk to me about developing that chemistry with Archie on this film, and a little bit about Jack as well?

David Harbour: Yeah, he’s someone who sort of operated at the highest level of racing, then got really beat up in a situation. He was very, for lack of a better word, traumatized by this thing and then hung around on the edges of racing for a while – not being able to let it go, but also not being able to really engage with it in this liminal space.

I think that when this opportunity comes along, his initial response is, “No, no, no. Horrible. Stupid. The kids are dumb.” And I always like when people respond that way because it always tells me that the opposite is generally true. Friends that I meet, they’re like, “I’m never getting married. I’m never getting married.” You’re always like, “You’re [going to] be married in three years,” and they always are. So, there’s something about that in his psyche that I thought was really interesting.

And then to see him reawaken through this surrogate of Jann and with Archie, I think that was really easy and natural. I think he’s just a natural talent, and he’s very game. He really wants to do good work. And it becomes meta in another way, where it’s like I’m this older actor looking at this younger actor and saying, “You could do greater things than I can. You can do something in this world. I’m just grizzled and angry and tired. Take the mantle, my friend.”

But there was something really special about that and it was pretty easy and it was pretty natural, and that’s rare. A lot of times you got to do a lot of work to create chemistry, and this didn’t have to be that way. I think that’s a testament to Archie.

Absolutely. Archie, everything in this film seems so real because, for the most part, it is. You really did get behind the wheel of some of these race cars. But you didn’t know how to drive prior to making this film. Can you talk about that a little bit? What’s harder: learning how to drive or becoming a master at playing Gran Turismo? Because you also did some of those cyber cafe scenes.

Archie Madekwe: Yes, I passed my test a week before I got to set, and there were high stakes. I had to pass in two weeks. It was all very quick. I was shooting another film at the time, and I was taking my lessons at night. All very intense, and that was an added intensity. Gran Turismo was a little more fun. I had months to prepare, so me and my trainer, David, became so close. And just every single night I’d be racing and racing.

But every single scene that you see me playing Gran Turismo, I’m playing in real life. I had to be good, and there was immense pressure in that way because the fans are just so meticulous. They know if someone’s good or not. We needed to know that I knew how to play.

In a lot of those scenes, David would be in the back just screaming instructions to me, making sure I got it right and I had my hands in the same way. I’d put my hands up the steering wheel, and he’d be like, “No, you hold it like this. The sim drivers will kill you if you put your hands up like that.” And so it was constant, constant, constant adjustments.

Both fun; both different skill sets. Nothing is as hard as being in the cars.

About Gran Turismo

David Harbour in Gran Turismo

Based on the unbelievable true story of a team of unlikely underdogs – a struggling working-class gamer (Archie Madekwe), a failed former racecar driver (David Harbour), and an idealistic motorsport executive (Orlando Bloom).

Check back soon for our other Gran Turismo interview with Jann Mardenborough as well.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

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