Gran Turismo Accused Of Exploiting A Real-Life Tragedy

By Britta DeVore | Published

Gran Turismo

If there’s anything that we’ve learned from the slew of promos debuted by the marketing team behind Gran Turismo, it’s that the film will be as true to the real-life story of Jann Mardenborough as it can get. While, in this film’s case, sticking to the truth is an overall story of triumph, one scene, in particular, gave way to a slew of questions surrounding the necessity of the gamer-turned-racer’s big screen telling. In a recent interview with The Sunday Times Driving, Mardenborough sat down to discuss why he knew he had to leave an upsetting and deadly chapter in his life story as part of the movie.

Gran Turismo is being accused of down-playing the real-life death of a racing spectator for the sake of dramatizing the true story of Jann Mardenborough.

Gran Turismo promises to spotlight Mardenborough’s unlikely rise to the top of race car driving from his beginnings as a gamer playing the popular PlayStation game at home. One of his darkest hours from behind the controls and onto the track happened during the 2015 Nürburgring race. As he’s speeding alongside his competitors, Mardenborough (portrayed by Archie Madekwe in the film) loses control of his vehicle, which becomes airborne, flying off the track and, ultimately, killing a spectator.

“It’s my life; it’s part of my story,” Mardenborough explains when asked why he wanted to leave the devastating scene in the Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directed film. Wanting to highlight everything – and not just the good – the professional driver says that the traumatic moment shook him to his core, pointing to the “deep dark moments” that he endured during his solo stay at the hospital and “the mental aspects” and toll that the spectator’s death took on him.

Archie Madekwe and David Harbour in Gran Turismo

“It shows as well the deep dark moments of my life when I was in the hospital by myself. You know, the mental aspects to such an event, and in life as well: what can happen; how you can get out of that; how can you rebound and achieve something — achieve greatness — off the back of that. And so it had to be in there.”

Jann Mardenborough on Gran Turismo including a spectator’s death

For his career, the Gran Turismo subject says that it may have been a rock bottom moment but that his drive to reach his childhood dream helped to lift him out and to “rebound” to a place of “greatness,” which is something that he achieved later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

“It had to be in there,” Mardenborough says, continuing to stand by the life-altering moment for not only him but for the family of the life that was cut short during the race in Germany. While much of Gran Turismo will be a joyous ride of a true underdog’s rise to the top, this moment, which is said to be in the feature’s third act, will show the reality of what Mardenborough and other professionals like him face every time they get behind the wheel of a race car.

Though the tragic incident motivated Mardenborough, it happened years into his career, after he was an established driver, and not when Gran Turismo is set.

As for the rest of the film, Gran Turismo will tell the unbelievable true story of Mardenborough’s rise to the top of race car driving after being handed the opportunity of a lifetime following his big win in a Nissan-sponsored driving game.

Along with Madekwe, the film also features Stranger ThingsDavid Harbour as driving trainer Jack Salter and the Lord of the Rings franchise star Orlando Bloom as marketing exec Danny Moore with ensemble performances from Djimon Hounsou, Geri Halliwell, Darren Barnet, Takehiro Hira, Daniel Puig, Richard Cambridge, and Thomas Kretschmann. Despite an original wide release set for August 11, Gran Turismo will now be speeding into theaters around the United States on August 25.