In Race Olympian Jesse Owens’ (James) vies to become the greatest track and field athlete in history during the 1936 games in Berlin, facing off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of white supremacy. Sudeikis plays his coach, Larry Snyder.
“He’s just awesome, we had a lot of fun moments on an off set despite the serious subject manner,” James said of Sudeikis. “You’ll see Jesse and Larry’s relationship really grow to a point where they become very, very close, much like me and Jason in real life.”
The friendship wasn’t formed over shared character preparation, though. While James spent countless hours running, Sudeikis didn’t take any part. When we asked James if the two ever raced each other for fun, he said, “never.”
“But I don’t think he wanted to do that, he knows his place, he wouldn’t try it,” the Selma actor joked.
While they had fun off set, this wasn’t like the comedies the Saturday Night Live alum is used to.
“The biggest difference for me personally between doing the comedies I’m lucky enough to do and, say, this drama is the quality of the conversations that come from it,” Sudeikis told PEOPLE while his fiancé Olivia Wilde waited for him at the end of the carpet.
“I don’t mind answering the questions of how many horrible bosses I’ve had or what it’s like working with Jennifer Aniston, because the answer is not many horrible bosses and It’s fantastic working with Jen,” the father of one confirmed. “But the way that this film harmonizes with the conversations going on and have been for 100 years, and may they not be 100 more, is a nice opportunity.”
Race, which also stars Jeremy Irons, opens Feb. 19.