Gran Turismo true story: Jann Mardenborough and Neill Blomkamp explain
Jann Mardenborough – whose life the film is based on – and director Neill Blomkamp spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com about the incredible true story.
If you've seen any movie trailers at all in recent months – or even passed any billboards or buses – it can't have escaped you that the new Gran Turismo film is based on a true story.
Indeed, the film, which recounts devoted gamer Jann Mardenborough's rise from Gran Turismo player to professional racer, has even incorporated its "Based on a True Story" strapline into the official title.
But you might be wondering how accurate to Mardenborough's story the film really is... Did the filmmakers take any liberties with the truth to give the film a slightly more Hollywood flavour?
Read on for everything you need to know.
Gran Turismo true story: Jann Mardenborough, Neill Blomkamp explain
According to director Neill Blomkamp, the film is pretty much a truthful retelling of the real story – with very few deviations from the events as they actually happened.
"The movie is remarkably close to his life," he explained to RadioTimes.com during an exclusive interview ahead of the film's release.
"I think a lot of people will think that we embellish stuff, but other than the police chase at the beginning of the movie, there's almost nothing that I can point to that isn't exactly what happened."
For his part, Mardenborough said that he had often been asked to pick out which parts of the film didn't really happen, and he always had the same response.
"Look, I've led a very unusual life," he said. "Getting into racing the way I did with the [Gran Turismo] Academy and just having a normal background and then what's happened to me – well, for me – in racing.
"The categories of racing, the race cars, the rivalries, the accidents," he added. "My name is on it and I want to represent my sport in the best way possible, because I love my sport, and it needs to be represented in the right way."
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That said, although the film follows Mardenborough's career in a way that does indeed closely resemble the true story, it should not be treated as a documentary.
One example of this is regarding the supporting characters in the film, many of whom are composites or fictional characters – such as Orlando Bloom's character Danny Moore, who is based on GT Academy founder Darren Cox, and David Harbour's Jack Salter, who was created for the movie.
There are also a number of other changes made to the real story, including the fact that Mardenborough was actually the third winner of the GT Academy, not the first - as is shown in the film.
Meanwhile, the Nürburgring crash – which resulted in the accidental death of a spectator – actually happened in 2015 after his podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and not earlier in Mardenborough's career as it appears in the film.
However, the film does largely stick to Mardenborough's story, and even includes some details that might not have made it into the film had the real man not been on set himself (he was an executive producer and stunt driver), something Blomkamp described as "incredibly valuable."
"I loved him being involved," he said, "and I would ask him a lot of questions. I would constantly bounce stuff off of him to validate that what we were doing was accurate or truthful.
"And a lot of that is to do with him being sort of accessible 24/7 and me bouncing questions off him all the time. That affects the bigger story and the structure, but it also affects smaller, nuanced, little moments, like even set design and stuff – we can just amplify realism because he's right there and we can ask him."
And Mardenborough revealed that the result of this process is that there are certain Easter eggs in the film that only he and his immediate circle would know about.
"The keen-eyed viewer would know... there's a scene where it shows me qualifying for GT Academy, and in the top left corner, it's got my username, and it's my real PSN username. So only PSN users would know that," he explained.
"And also the gaming rig that was in my bedroom is an exact replica of the gaming rig I used to qualify for GT Academy.
"It's important because that rig... I made it, I made it and I painted it in a certain Art Deco way because I made it in school and that rig is what I used to qualify for GT-A. So I asked Neill [Blomkamp, director], please could you put these in there?"
And it wasn't just Blomkamp who turned to Mardenborough for advice – star Archie Madekwe was also keen to pick his brains before taking on the lead role, and the pair met by chance at Silverstone a month before filming began.
"I was testing a GT3 car and he'd never seen this before, so it was the perfect environment for him to experience before going to set," Mardenborough said, "because he'd never experienced race cars in an environment before.
"And he's very attentive, he asked lots of questions about me – not only my professional life but personal life as well. And he's the perfect guy for the job. I had the utmost confidence in him, he's a great guy, and he absolutely killed it."
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