EXCLUSIVE: Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Woody Harrelson (True Detective, Zombieland), Emmy nominee Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Hacks), Grammy nominee Cheech Marin (Born in East L.A, From Dusk Till Dawn) and Matt Cook (Man With a Plan, The Comeback) will lead Champions, a recently-wrapped film that Bobby Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) directed for Focus Features and Gold Circle Entertainment.
Champions is based on the Goya Award winning Spanish film Campeones, which Universal Pictures International released in 2018. It centers on a stubborn and hotheaded minor league basketball coach who is forced to coach a Special Olympics team when he is sentenced to community service. Actors with intellectual disabilities rounding out the cast to ensure authenticity in the storytelling include Madison Tevlin, Joshua Felder, Kevin Iannucci, Ashton Gunning, Matthew Von Der Ahe, Tom Sinclair, James Day Keith, Alex Hintz, Casey Metcalfe, Bradley Edens and Champ Pederson.
Mark Rizzo penned the script. Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer and Jeremy Plager produced, with Harrelson, Brad Kessell, Alexander Jooss, Luis Manso, Alvaro Longoria and Javier Fesser exec producing, and Joe Toto and Carlen Johnson overseeing the project for Focus Features. Focus will distribute the film domestically, with Universal Pictures handling its international release.
Farrelly is a PGA Award winner whose films with his brother Peter—including Dumb and Dumber and its sequel Dumb and Dumber To, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself & Irene, Osmosis Jones, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, The Heartbreak Kid, Hall Pass and The Three Stooges—have grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide. He recently directed on the series Loudermilk (Audience Network), The Now (Quibi) and Trailer Park Boys (BBC America), also exec producing the former.
Harrelson earned his Oscar noms for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Messenger and The People vs. Larry Flynt, nabbing an Emmy back in 1989 for his supporting turn as Woody Boyd in Cheers. He’ll next be seen in the HBO series The White House Plumbers, Patrick Hughes’ action-thriller The Man from Toronto and Ruben Östlund’s film Triangle of Sadness, among other projects.
Olson is best known for turns in series including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Hacks and The Mick. She’s also featured in such shows as Flipped and Curb Your Enthusiasm, along with films including Arizona, Finding Dory and The Heat.
Marin is an actor and comedian who broke out in the ’70s, alongside Tommy Chong, as one half of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong. He’s appeared in such films as Machete, Planet Terror, Grindhouse, Tin Cup, From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado, Ghostbusters II, Born in East L.A., After Hours and Up in Smoke, along with series including Elena of Avalor, Lodge 49 and Jane the Virgin.
Cook recently appeared in Amazon’s Aaron Sorkin drama Being the Ricardos and will next be seen in Peter Farrelly’s Apple film The Greatest Beer Run Ever, among other projects. The actor has previously appeared on the TV side in Man with a Plan, Will & Grace, Grace and Frankie and more.
Farrelly is represented by A3, Anonymous and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols; Rizzo by CAA; Harrelson by Seven Deuce Entertainment; Olson by UTA; Marin by Innovative Artists and Weintraub Tobin Chediak; Cook by Innovative Artists, Working Entertainment and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols; Iannucci and Von Der Ahe by Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates; and Edens by Kutalent Agency in North Carolina.
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‘Champions’: Woody Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson, Cheech Marin & Matt Cook To Topline Bobby Farrelly’s Special Olympics Pic For Focus Features And Gold Circle Entertainment