Martin Sensmeier to Star in Jim Thorpe Movie From Angelina Jolie

Neil Mockford/FilmMagic; Photofest; Barry King/Getty Images
Angelina Jolie, Jim Thorpe, Martin Sensmeier

Thorpe was the legendary athlete who won two Olympic gold medals representing the United States and went on to help found the NFL.

Native American athlete Jim Thorpe is getting the big-screen treatment.

Angelina Jolie will produce Bright Path: The Jim Thorpe Story, which will star Martin Sensmeier (Wind River, Westworld) as the multitalented athlete and member of the Sac and Fox Nation.

In 1912, Thorpe won two Olympic gold medals representing the United States while his citizenship went unrecognized during a period of cultural genocide against Native Americans. He went on to play Major League Baseball, professional football and eventually founded the organization that became the NFL.

Along with Jolie, Steve Tisch and Todd Black of Escape Artists Productions and Abraham Taylor will also produce. In addition to starring, Sensmeier will also exec produce with Josh Aker and Justine Hunt on behalf of Box of Daylight Productions. Abraham Taylor, Alex Nibley and Sterlin Harjo penned the original screenplay.

“I’m honored to be working on this project," said Jolie. “I have had the privilege of spending time with Bill Thorpe, and will be listening to and guided by the Tribes and the Thorpe family in the making of this film.”

Thorpe's story was previously told in 1951's Jim Thorpe: All American, which starred Burt Lancaster. 

For Bright Path, the filmmakers are partnering with Indian Country to participate in financing the film and telling the authentic story, including the Tuolumne Band of Mewuk Indians, the Mohegan Tribe, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Tonto Apache Tribe and the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria. 

Mohegan chairman Kevin Brown (“Red Eagle”), said, “As Native Americans it is crucial that we tell our own stories. Thorpe's is a vital one, and Bright Path will break barriers. For the first time, a major motion picture about a Native man, starring a Native man, will be made and released to a broad general audience. We couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.”

Thorpe's family will also be involved in the production. “Our father’s accomplishments in life are a great source of pride to us. In the more than six decades since Burt Lancaster’s Jim Thorpe: All American, our family has heard of dozens of attempts to bring this story to modern audiences, but we have never shared the vision of a movie until the authentic portrayal in Bright Path,” said Bill Thorpe. 

UTA’s Independent Film Group will represent the film for financing and distribution.

Sensmeier, who also starred in The Magnificent Seven, is repped by UTA and Hunt. Jolie is repped by UTA, Media Talent Group and Sloane Offer.   

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