Rush,the new movie about the intense rivalry between legendary Formula One drivers, Austrian Niki Lauda and British John Hunt, is Ron Howard’s latest project to hit theaters.
The story centers on the fierce competition between a methodical Lauda and the playboy Hunt on the year in which they were fighting for the title. Daniel Brühl, plays Lauda to the T.
In a recent interview with The Guardian he talks about the audition and missing the chance to be at the Nürburgring race track in Germany, which is were Lauda suffered the accident that almost took his life and left him permanently disfigured.
Instead the actor was in London at the time and not very happy about missing the big meeting.
The 1976 Nürburgring Grand Prix is the centerpiece of Howard’s drama, the culmination of all that was happening on a personal level between Lauda and Hunt that year.
“Ron called me, super excited, because they organised a screening for the drivers and the actors and Niki at the Nürburgring, and the reactions were overwhelming. Lewis Hamilton, Alonso – everyone came over to Ron and there was a standing ovation. I was very sad to miss it. When he called me I said: ‘What the f***!’ I wish I’d been there to see it with Niki, to watch him watch it, and see it with all those drivers.”
This is Brühl’s first major starring role, although he was in Inglorious Basterds, which put him on the map so to speak. According to those who have seen screenings for the film, Brühl immerses himself in his role completely, with all the mannerisms and sayings.
Since Lauda is a legend in the racing world, Brühl says he found the audition very intimidating, but adds he got the call only three days later telling him he had the role.
Daniel Brühl says that he had just began working on his accent for Rush when Lauda called,
“The phone rang at 8am. I saw the number and thought: ‘Oops, that’s him.’ He said: ‘Yeah, it’s Niki. I guess we have to meet.’ I said: ‘Yeah, it would be good.’ He said: ‘OK, come to Vienna. Just bring hand luggage so if we don’t like each other you can piss off.’ It was so brilliant. I thought: ‘Oh my God, that’s the way he is, OK.’ So I packed my little bag and went to Vienna. Fortunately, he did like me and I had to buy some clothes because the trip was extended.”
Daniel Brühl met Lauda, his wife and ex-wife and was constantly asking questions and absorbing all the information he was getting to use on Rush.
Lauda was the Formula One champion in 1976, when, at the German Grand Prix, his Ferrari slammed into an embankment and exploded into flames before being hit by another car.
His helmet came off and he was trapped in the car for 45 seconds before being rescued. He suffered damage to his lungs, part of his scalp was burned away, as well as his eyelids, and half an ear.
He fell into a coma and was read the last rites, but returned after six weeks to race again and refused all reconstructive surgery other than the eyelid replacement which would enable him to see.
Daniel Brühl says he admires Lauda’s straightforwardness on all matters,
“He’s very sharp and honest,” he says. “He never repeats himself like I do. I’m a very redundant talker. Never would there be a word too much with him because that’s a loss of time, a loss of money.”