Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment have come together to bring the incredibly compelling story of Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend to the big screen. Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) is the star and executive producer while Jeff Bridges (The Contender) and Chris Cooper (American Beauty,) co-star.
Written and directed by Gary Ross (Dave), produced by partners Frank Marshall (Signs) and Kathleen Kennedy (The Sixth Sense,), along with Ross and Jane Sindell, and executive produced by Spyglass Entertainment’s Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, and Robin Bissell and Allison Thomas, Seabiscuit tells the story of three men — a jockey, a trainer and a businessman — and the undersized racehorse with an uneven gait who took them and the entire nation on the ride of a lifetime during the dark days of the 1930’s.
Tobey Maguire stars as legendary half-blind jockey Red Pollard. Four-time Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges portrays Seabiscuit’s owner, the self-made auto tycoon Charles Howard, while Chris Cooper has been cast as trainer Tom Smith, the down-on-his-luck cowboy who got on with horses better than people. Elizabeth Banks (Spider-Man) portrays Howard’s wife Marcella, and William H. Macy (Jurassic Park III) plays racing journalist Tick Tock McGlaughlin. Real-life Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens makes his feature film debut as charismatic jockey George Woolf.
Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, who retired from the sport earlier this year after a 28-year career that included wins in six Triple Crown races and nine Breeders’ Cups, is the film’s racing consultant, along with Judy McCarron. Chris McCarron will also appear onscreen in Seabiscuit, as jockey Charley Kurtsinger, who rode War Admiral in a legendary match race against Seabiscuit.
The film’s racing sequences were shot at some of the top tracks across the country, including Magna Entertainment Corporation’s Santa Anita Park, Seabiscuit’s home track in Los Angeles. The Keeneland track in Lexington, Kentucky’s famed Blue Grass region, doubles for the Pimlico track in Maryland, site of the spellbinding showdown between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Major scenes were also filmed at the Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and the Fairplex at the Pomona County Fairgrounds in the Los Angeles area.
A two-time Oscar nominee for his original screenplays for Dave and Big (which he co-wrote with Anne Spielberg), Ross made his feature film directorial debut with Pleasantville in 1998, which also starred Tobey Maguire. He was joined by a talented production team behind the scenes, several of whom he has collaborated with in the past, such as production designer Jeannine Oppewall (L.A. Confidential), editor Billy Goldenberg (Au), Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman (Meet the Parents) and costume designer Judianna Makovsky (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), who was Oscar-nominated for her work on Pleasantville. John Schwartzman (Pearl Harbor, Armageddon) served as director of photography.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend is one of the most popular and widely read non-fiction books of recent years and remains at the top of The New York Times paperback best-seller list. Much like the horse himself, who ultimately became one of the most electrifying and popular sports attractions in history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, the book has become a national phenomenon.