Daniel Bruhl "Rush" Photo Call
Updated: September 29, 2013 10:00PM
Formula One legend Niki Lauda felt no need to rush it.
When actor Daniel Bruhl called him for advice about playing him in “Rush,” Lauda was his usual pain-in-the-you-know-what self.
“Niki was quite cautious at first,” says the Spanish-born German actor. “The first conversation was like, ‘Yeah, I guess we have to meet now. You’re playing me. But only bring one little piece of luggage to Vienna in case we don’t like each other.”
Bruhl laughs. “He told me, ‘If we don’t like each other then you can leave right away.’ Fortunately, we did like each other and I had to go buy extra clothes.”
The Ron Howard-directed film (now in theaters) re-creates the 1976 Formula One season rivalry between drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Lauda. In “The Fifth Estate” (opening Oct. 18), the actor plays Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the right-hand man of Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the WikiLeaks scandal.
Q: In “Rush,” you play a man who lived for racing and didn’t like when a playboy prettyboy showed up on the scene. What was it like to play someone – pardon the pun – who was so driven?
A: James Hunt was a guy who never wanted to grow up. Meanwhile, Lauda is someone who never was young. He was always a super serious adult, especially about racing. Focused doesn’t begin to describe him. I did find out that he didn’t have an easy life. His family didn’t want him to be a racecar driver and he had to fight so many obstacles to fight his way into Formula One. He took high risks as a driver, which was part of his personality.
Q: What was it like to get into one of those cars and let it rip?
A: I like to drive – and I like to drive fast. I’m always on the Autobahn in Germany and I enjoy it. That said, it’s a completely different thing to sit in a racecar in a Formula One car. The sensation of that kind of speed is more than your body expects. In that car, your entire body vibrates the entire time. You’re shaking and all you can smell is gasoline. I totally got the addiction to it. You’re running on pure adrenalin. Now I know why young boys want to grow up and be racecar drivers.
Q: After a horrific crash scene in “Rush,” there’s a scene where you get your lungs drained by doctor’s pushing a tube into them. What was it like to shoot?
A: It was quite terrible. I had to eat a piece of bread while they pushed this real tube down my throat. The bread was a buffer. It was really unpleasant because I wanted that tube really down in my throat. All the way down. It had to be real. The same with the racing. Yes, precision drivers did the most amazing stuff, but I did whatever was possible.
Q: What was it like to work with Chris Hemsworth on “Rush” and then that other new A-lister Benedict Cumberbatch on “The Fifth Estate”?
A: I loved Chris. He’s a laid-back surfer guy. It’s difficult to dislike him. Benedict is the most British guy you will ever meet. Before I said hi, he knew what I had for breakfast and that I was left-handed and was trying to quit smoking. I said, “Hi Sherlock, nice to meet you.” Then he told me how to better clean my shirts.
Q: Tell us about your character in “The Fifth Estate.”
A: I heard about Wikileaks a few years ago and I was sure they would make a movie about it. Again, it was strange to play a real person and it was helpful to spend time with the real Daniel. He invited me to his place a couple of times and explained to me his relationship with Julian. I didn’t have any reason not to believe in his integrity. I had empathy for him. He was willing to do anything to support Wikileaks and had a complex relationship with Assange. You can’t deny that Assange wasn’t a brilliant, talented man. Dan originally found the idea of Wikileaks important. Then he had to cope with his inner conflicts.
Q: There’s Oscar buzz for both roles. What does that feel like for you?
A: I don’t want to think about it, but I like hearing it. It means I’ve done OK. Meanwhile, I’m just going to enjoy the momentum.
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