Woody Harrelson, Cheech Marin, And Kaitlin Olson Will Lead Focus Features' Champions

Woody Harrelson fans will be thrilled to know that the Emmy-winning actor is set to play the lead in yet another comedy project after his the upcoming action-comedy "The Man from Toronto." According to a press release, Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson, and Cheech Marin will lead the cast of "Champions," a new film that will be directed by Bobby Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary") for Focus Pictures and Gold Circle Entertainment. 

"Champions" is based on the Goya Award-winning Spanish film "Campeones," and centers on a hot-headed, stubborn minor league basketball coach who needs to coach a Special Olympics team as a part of his community service. Farrelly's adaptation will also be sticking to the same narrative, with Harrelson assuming the role of the protagonist, Marcus. As the original "Campeones" was inspired by a real team comprising of members with intellectual disabilities who won twelve Spanish championships between 1999 and 2014, the cast of the upcoming adaptation also includes actors with intellectual disabilities to ensure authenticity and fair representation in terms of storytelling.

Mark Pizzo wrote the script, and Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer, and Jeremy Plager are on board the movie as producers.

An All-Star Team

Javier Fesser's "Campeones" starred Javier Gutiérrez as Marco Montes, whose many instances of drunk-driving landed him in community service. Initially, Marco harbors a condescending attitude towards his team but is soon humbled by a series of events that teach him never to look down upon those around him. While comedic in tone and treatment, "Campeones" is a genuine look into the themes of othering and inclusivity, the societal double standards that surround both, and what it means to navigate them with an informed perspective.

Harrelson's latest stint as Cletus Kasady in "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" is an obvious reminder of the actor's natural ability to slip into roles considered a tad unhinged (another case in point: his portrayal of Mickey Knox in "Natural Born Killers"). However, comedy is also one of Harrelson's many strengths, as evidenced in the comedy-horror "Zombieland" and going all the way back to his stint on "Cheers," making his addition to "Champions" apt, as the actor can expertly balance comedic beats with heartfelt, nuanced emotions. Also, he is no stranger to starring in a sports drama, as he famously co-starred alongside Wesley Snipes in the 1992 basketball classic "White Men Can't Jump." Apart from "Champions" and "The Man From Toronto," Harrelson is also involved in Ruben Östlund's upcoming black comedy, "Triangle of Sadness."

Olson, of course, is best known for "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," while Marin is one half of the comedic duo "Cheech and Chong" who has also made appearances in films like "Desperado" and "From Dusk Till Dawn." The film also stars "more than 10 actors with intellectual disabilities who authentically tell the story, including 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."

Focus Features will distribute "Champions" in the United States, while Universal will handle the international release.