See the ‘Gran Turismo Cast’ Compared to the Real People They Play

Gran Turismo tells the inspiring story of a teenager who turns his gaming skills into a professional racing career. The 2023 sports drama is based on true events and real people.

The movie features iterations of Jann Mardenborough, his parents, and other key players in the story. However, not all characters in the film have real-life counterparts. David Harbour, for example, plays a racing trainer named Jack Salter, but it’s unclear if Salter is based on a real coach. While Mardenborough himself competed against 90,000 entrants in the GT Academy competition that launched his career, the “rivals” depicted in the movie do not seem to be based on specific racers.

See the 'Gran Turismo Cast' Compared to the Real People They Play

Despite some differences, Gran Turismo takes direct inspiration from the moments and people that shaped Mardenborough’s journey. The film introduces audiences to the actual figures portrayed on screen by actors like Archie Madekwe, Orlando Bloom, Geri Halliwell, and more.

Archie Madekwe stars as Jann Mardenborough

Archie Madekwe portrays Jann Mardenborough, the youngest winner of GT Academy who transitioned into a professional racing driver. Following his victory in the 2011 Nissan- and Sony-funded TV competition, Mardenborough has competed in races around the globe.

The English gamer-turned-racer also served as a consultant and co-producer for the 2023 film based on his life. During filming, Mardenborough even stepped in as a stunt driver, taking over for his actor counterpart.

In a promotional video for the movie, Madekwe and Mardenborough sat down to discuss the true story behind Gran Turismo and their experiences on set.

“I think it’s maybe the first film ever where there’s a film being made about someone’s life and they are stunt driving in the film,” shared Madekwe, who also appeared in the 2019 thriller Midsommar.

Orlando Bloom as Danny Moore (Based on the founder of GT Academy, Darren Cox)

Orlando Bloom’s character, Danny Moore, draws inspiration from Darren Cox, the real-life founder of GT Academy Cox, while serving as the European general manager for Nissan, conceived the idea of giving Gran Turismo video game experts the opportunity to transition to real-world racing.

In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Cox discussed the rationale behind GT Academy. He highlighted the similarities between the equipment used in the game and real racing vehicles, emphasizing that the skills transfer directly, such as steering, braking, and accelerating. Cox explained that driving in real life is essentially the same as in the game, just without the physical G-forces.

Djimon Hounsou stars as Steve Mardenborough

In the 2023 biopic, Djimon Hounsou portrays Steve Mardenborough, Jann Mardenborough’s father, who shares his son’s competitive spirit as a former professional football player. Steve Mardenborough played for several English and Welsh football teams throughout his career and also spent a season playing in Sweden for IFK Östersund. He is most recognized for his time with Darlington Football Club in the early 1990s, a period that coincided with the birth of his son Jann.

Geri Halliwell as Lesley Mardenborough

Geri Halliwell, known for her time in the Spice Girls, plays Lesley Mardenborough, Jann Mardenborough’s mother, in Gran Turismo.

In an interview with The Sun, Jann praised Halliwell’s portrayal, saying she “nailed” the role. He expressed his surprise at having someone like Halliwell play his mother, calling it “weird” and “crazy.”

Jann also mentioned that his mother and Halliwell were in contact, with Halliwell seeking insight into how she should portray Lesley in the film. According to Jann, his mother described him before his racing career as “not particularly outgoing and quite a home boy” in a brief interview with The Guardian.

Takehiro Hira portrays Kazunori Yamauchi

Takehiro Hira, known for his roles in the 2021 film “Snake Eyes” and the TV series “Girl/Haji,” portrays Kazunori Yamauchi in Gran Turismo. Yamauchi is the CEO of Polyphony Digital, the Tokyo-based developer behind the popular PlayStation racing game series.

Similar to Jann Mardenborough, Yamauchi’s passion for motorsports extends beyond the virtual realm. The Japanese creator raced professionally from 2009 to 2016, representing teams such as Honda and Nissan in competitions around the world.


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