HUNT VS. LAUDA ON THE BIG SCREEN
going to be sitting in the rain for a
couple of hours,” he says. “We’re
going to want to do another take,
and suddenly their cell phone starts
beeping and it’s, ‘Gee, there’s a
board meeting I’m supposed to get
to.’ You’ve got to be pretty busy to
be wealthy enough to own those
cars! But none of them baled...”
Howard’s team also created
replicas of key cars such as the
Ferraris and McLarens, using
spaceframe chassis and Rover V8
engines. These were necessary for
action scenes involving the stunt or
“precision” drivers – mostly racers
themselves – and because Howard
was often filming in places where
noise restrictions meant firing up
real F1 engines wasn’t an option.
The replicas built included
rarities such as the Ligier JS5 and
Brabham BT45, plus two BRM
P160s for early scenes involving
Lauda’s spell at the team in 1973.
“Using so many original cars
made a huge difference,” says
Howard, “but it also meant the
people building our replicas knew
they had to stand up to scrutiny.
There might be one angle where
they didn’t hold up, but we’d try to
avoid that as much as possible.”
With Howard on board, things began
to progress quickly. There were two
key issues: time and money. The shoot
was penciled in for early 2012, so the
planning period was relatively short for
such a complex, action-based production.
Technically an independent British film,
albeit with some U.S. support, Rush was
made on a relatively modest net budget
of $37m. There was no margin for error.
The casting was obviously a huge part
of the equation – Lauda and Hunt had to
be right. German-Spanish actor Daniel
Bruhl, who came to the attention of U.S.
movie goers in Quentin Tarantino’s
Inglourious Basterds, was primed for the
Lauda role from an early stage. To get a
feel for his character, and a handle on
Lauda’s Viennese dialect, he accompanied
Niki to the 2011 Brazilian GP.
Finding a Hunt proved to be more
difficult. However, an enterprising Chris
Hemsworth was determined to get the
role, and the Aussie sent in a tape to prove
that he could do it and capture the crisp
British accent (see sidebar, page 35).
Meanwhile a largely Anglo-German
crew was assembled. A key appointment
was that of cinematographer Anthony
Dod Mantle, an Academy Award winner
for Slumdog Millionaire, who helped
define the look and feel of the film.
How to best capture the action was a
big question. The first experiment was
held at the Nurburgring in August 2011,
where Howard took a skeleton crew to
film 1976 cars taking part in the FIA
Historic F1 race on the current circuit.
Some of the competitors then stayed on
after the weekend to run for Howard’s
cameras on the original Nordschleife.
(LEFT) The Ferrari 312T2 and March 761 are the real deal – as was most of the Rush grid.
Behind, the six-wheel Tyrrell P34 has been tweaked back to ’ 76 spec, while the Brabham
BT45 is - whisper it - a fake. (BELOW) The Ligier JS5 is another purpose-built replica.
(TOP LEFT) Niki Lauda’s
third-place finish at
Watkins Glen – his best
post-accident result of
the 1976 season – is
recreated for the
(ABOVE LEFT) Message
James Hunt devours
his sponsor’s product,
post-retirement at the
Long Beach GP.