When Sony Pictures announced the "Gran Turismo" video game series would spawn a movie, it said the plot would center on a teenage gamer who becomes a real-world racing driver. It turns out that plot is based on a true story.

A recent Sony tweet confirming the start of filming said the movie, which is scheduled for an August 11, 2023, premiere, would be based on the career of Jann Mardenborough, a British driver who won a race seat playing—you guessed it—"Gran Turismo." 

Mardenborough was one of several drivers to make the transition from gaming to professional racing through GT Academy, a competition organized by "Gran Turismo" publisher Sony Computer Entertainment and Nissan. Between 2008 and 2016, GT Academy pitted players against each other for the chance to become a Nissan factory driver.

Mardenborough won the 2011 GT Academy at age 19 and competed in the British GT Championship the following year. He raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, finishing third in the LMP2 class behind fellow GT Academy graduate Lucas Ordoñez.

Jann Mardenborough

Jann Mardenborough

Despite a 2015 Nürburgring crash that killed a spectator, Mardenborough returned to Le Mans that year, competing in the top LMP1 class in the ill-fated Nissan GT-R LM Nismo. While it featured a novel front-engine design that accommodated downforce-generating ducts in the bodywork, a rushed development program meant the car was uncompetitive and unreliable. Le Mans 2015 was its only race, with Mardenborough and co-drivers Max Chilton and Olivier Pla failing to finish.

That unfortunate Le Mans appearance has been Mardenborough's most high-profile career moment so far. He subsequently raced in the Japanese Super Formula and Super GT series. The Race reported in January 2021 that he was looking for a new manufacturer sponsor. While things appear to have stalled out for Mardenborough, his rise from teenage gamer to Le Mans competitor definitely seems Hollywood-worthy.