Martin Sensmeier will executive produce and star as the world-renowned athlete. Abraham Taylor is also on board to produce. Taylor, Alex Nibley and Sterlin Harjo penned the original screenplay. Josh Aker will additionally executive produce, along with Justine Hunt for Box of Daylight Productions.
Regarded as one of the greatest athletes in the history of modern sports, Thorpe was also a member of the Sac and Fox Nation. In 1912, he won two Olympic gold medals representing the United States while his citizenship went unrecognized during a period of cultural genocide for Native Americans. He went on to play Major League Baseball, professional football and eventually founded the organization that became the NFL.
“I’m honored to be working on this project,” Jolie said. “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.”
The producers have garnered significant support from Indian Country — 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 — to participate in financing the film and telling the authentic story.
“As Native Americans, it is crucial that we tell our own stories,” Mohegan chairman Kevin Brown “Red Eagle” said. “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.”
Robert Williamson, clan leader and committee member of the Sac and Fox Nation, said. “At its core, Bright Path is a powerful human rights story. It will help the nation understand our people and our struggle.”
Additionally, Thorpe’s family will be involved in the feature. “My brother Richard and I are the only surviving children of Jim Thorpe,” Bill Thorpe said. “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: The Jim Thorpe Story.”
Sensmeier, who is in HBO’s hit series “Westworld,” was also seen in Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River” opposite Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. Prior to that, he appeared in Antoine Fuqua’s “The Magnificent Seven” with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.