Gran Turismo Found An Amazing And Special Role For The Real Driver The Video Game Movie Is Based On

 Cars driving in Gran Turismo 2023
Cars driving in Gran Turismo 2023

Director Neill Blomkamp’s Gran Turismo is not your standard video game movie. The game it’s based on is a racing simulator that doesn’t feature any kind of plot for filmmakers to try and adapt, so the creatives behind the project had to take a special approach. Instead of opting for the purely fiction route, the film instead tells the fascinating true story of Jann Mardenborough – a British gamer who had never competed in a motorsport before being selected to attend the GT Academy and becoming a professional racing driver.

It’s a much different approach than what we’re used to seeing from Hollywood when it comes to bringing video games to the big screen, but it’s also worth noting that it’s also quite different than most biopics we see. This is because the real Jann Mardenborough was not only an important behind-the-scenes consultant on the Playstation feature, but also one of the production’s primary stunt drivers.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to dive deep into the world of the Gran Turismo movie when I visited the production’s edit bay and got to sit down with Neill Blomkamp for an extended look at the project. While watching footage and discussing the filmmaker’s work, one question I asked was about Jann Mardenborough’s involvement. While some based-on-a-true-story films prefer to keep their subjects at arm’s length, that was definitely not the case here, as Blomkamp explained that the professional driver was a key resource for him during development and filming. Said the director,

No, he was definitely involved. I would even just text him constantly. 'What about this? What about that?' One weird example would be like, I had a sneaking suspicion that he would listen to interesting music before he would race, and I had some ideas about what I wanted to do with music. So I texted... no, actually this was Zoom. I was like, 'Dude, what music do you listen to before you like, get into the zone?' And his answer was amazingly unusual and exactly what I was hoping for.

In a million years, I wouldn’t have guessed that Jann Mardenborough’s psych up music would be the smooth saxophone stylings of Kenny G, but that was the answer that Mardenborough told Neill Blomkamp, and that’s a detail that did end up making its way into Gran Turismo.

Continuing, the filmmaker explained that it wasn’t just about tiny details either. In addition to informing the screenplay by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin on a “much more structural sort of truthful biographical level as well,” the production also found a way to get the film’s subject actively involved in the making of the movie. As Blomkamp explained, one of the challenges that the production had to deal with during development was finding a stunt double for star Archie Madekwe – as it was tough to find both someone with the right look and the necessary skills:

Then the other super interesting thing is Archie Madekwe, who's an awesome actor in here, as you go through the process of finding a stunt double, you have to find people that feel like if you catch glimpses of them, that they look like the actor, but also that physically that they're similar and that there's a lot of things that need to happen. But with a racing film, the pool of stunt doubles you can pick from that are high level racers is very narrow.

While that search was happening, Blomkamp noted, he was being asked by Jann Mardenborough if there was some way for him to cameo in the video game blockbuster… and then everything clicked. Said Blomkamp,

At the same time that we were doing that, Jann was asking if he could, just for almost like cameos sake, could he drive one of the races. And what ended up happening was super awesome, which is that he is Jann Mardenborough's stunt double for all driving in the entire movie. So anytime you see the car driving that is an exterior shot where you can see the whole car, real Jann is driving it. And then as soon as you go in, it's Archie.

It’s certainly not a typical thing for an actor playing a real person to be doubled by the person who are playing, but that’s a weird and fun bit of trivia behind Gran Turismo – which just launched its exciting first trailer this morning:

Starring Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Geri Halliwell Horner, and Djimon Hounsou, Gran Turismo is now just a few months away from release – set to hit theaters everywhere on August 11. You can stay up to date with all of the game adaptations in the works with our Upcoming Video Game Movies And TV guide, and check out our 2023 Movie Release Calendar to learn about all of the films scheduled to arrive in cinemas and on streaming in the coming weeks and months.