Gran Turismo trailer: the incredible true story of Jann Mardenborough’s journey from gamer to racer

·2-min read

British racing driver Jann Mardenborough, who has competed in the Formula 3 European Championship, the GP3 Series, and the GP2 Series, somewhat incredibly, spent years training for the profession by playing car racing video games.

He was a massive fan of the original PlayStation game Gran Turismo, and became so good at driving in the video game, that when he entered a GT Academy competition in 2011 (where Gran Turismo players were offered the opportunity to get started at real-life professional racing), he became its youngest ever winner at 19 years old, beating 90,000 others to the top spot.

Now this amazing true story is being turned into a film, titled Gran Turismo, starring Archie Madekwe as Mardenborough and David Harbour as Jack Salter, his trainer. Geri Halliwell will play Lesley Mardenborough, his mother, while Orlando Bloom will play marketing executive Danny Moore.

Its trailer, which shows the young ambitious video game player go to the GT Academy and start to realise the extent of his talents, was released yesterday and has already racked up 6.2 million views.

The film is directed by South African and Canadian filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, whose work includes District 9 (2009), Elysium (2013) and Demonic (2021).

Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay for 2014 war film American Sniper, and Zach Baylin, who wrote the screenplay Oscar-winning film King Richard, wrote the Gran Turismo script. Scottish composer Lorne Balfe, who made the music for Ghost in the Shell (2017), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Black Widow (2021) and Top Gun: Maverick (2022) has scored the film.

British actor Madekwe has previously had roles in Ari Aster’s 2019 horror Midsommar, 2021 science fiction film Voyagers, and had a lead role in the Apple TV+ series See.

“I started gaming when I was seven. Playing Gran Turismo on the original PlayStation, really just racing games,” Mardenborough said in a 2014 interview with the Guardian. “I’ve always had a passion for Gran Turismo and to drive cars I’d probably never, ever, get to drive.”

“The transition from video game to real-life driving wasn’t that difficult,” he added. “The controls and physics engines in games these days are crazy, they take real-life data from cars and then put them into code so that the way that the car pitches and brakes and the steering input works very well in racing games... Of course you feel the G-force which you don’t in the game, but you’re so tightly strapped into the seat, that it’s not really an issue.”

Gran Turismo is set to open in UK cinemas on August 11