‘National Champions’ Star Stephan James Opens About Upcoming Football Film

by Samantha Whidden

With his upcoming football movie National Champions set to premiere on Friday (December 10th), Stephan James is now sharing more details about the film. 

As previously reported, National Champions follows a star quarterback who “ignites” a strike among his teammates. This was just hours before the national championship game. The strike was part of the football players’ fight for fair compensation, equality, and respect as student-athletes.

While chatting with ScreenRant this week, James revealed what National Champions brings to the student-athlete conversation and what drew him to the project. “I like that we could tell a whole story about football. About sports. About institutionalization without ever having to be on the field.”

The National Champions star also stated he picked the role because the film tells stories that matter. “[It] tells stories that are important, and topical, and speak to the world that we’re living in today. “Hopefully, this film just helps amplify the conversation that’s already being had.”

When asked about his character, LeMarcus James, James stated he can relate to his onscreen persona. “I like that when he speaks up, he’s got something to say, and people listen. I think that is a true marker of strength and of leadership. The qualities that LeMarcus had to have to be the quarterback of his team.”

James also knew his character’s speeches were going to be important and a way for information to be communicated. “[He was] someone who had his head on his shoulders and knew how to speak about them with conviction. That was a really, really important thing for me.”

National Champions is directed by Ric Roman Waugh and stars James, Kirstin Chenoweth, J.K. Simmons, Alexander Ludwig, Timothy Olyphant, Uzo Aduba, and Jeffrey Donovan. 

‘National Champions’ Star Stephan James Opens Up About His Castmates 

While continuing to chat with ScreenRants about National Champions, Stephan James oped up about what it was like to work with a star-filled cast. “For me, it’s always a true joy to be around folks who I’ve watched and admitted throughout my career,” he explained. James also noted that sharing the screen with J.K. Simmons meant the world to him.

“He just has so much presence and brings so much energy,” James continued. “[He] brings so much energy and life to anything that it has no choice but to raise the level of performance with the average around you.”

James goes on to admit that Uzo Aduba gives him chills. “I was just like, ‘Okay, I don’t even know if I can do my side of the scene because she was so powerful.’” 

James then added that he was incredibly blessed to be around great ‘artists” who bring so much to the table.