** NOTE: This interview contains potential spoilers! **
Since we saw him in "Inglourious Basterds," Daniel Brühl has had quite the career upswing. Later this fall, he's starring in Toronto Film Festival opener "The Fifth Estate" with Benedict Cumberbatch, and this Friday, he's one of the lead roles in the heart-pounding racing movie "Rush."
Don't be fooled by Brühl's docile, calm manner -- he's a force to be reckoned with on-screen, and steals the movie right out from under the chiseled, charismatic Chris Hemsworth. As world-renowned auto racer Niki Lauda, Brühl is charmless, calculated and prickly, but you can't take your eyes off him.
Moviefone caught up with Brühl at TIFF, and we chatted about driving fast cars, Niki Lauda in real life, and just how horrible putting on all that makeup was.
Moviefone: You talked to Niki Lauda before you started shooting "Rush," correct?
Daniel Brühl: I did. Niki was quite undiplomatic at first, when he first called me. The first conversation was like, "Yeah. I guess we have to meet now."
And I said, "Well, that would be wonderful." "Yeah, only bring hung luggage to Vienna, in case we don't like each other. Then you can piss off right away." [Laughs] That's him. Fortunately I had to buy some extra clothes in Vienna, and I stayed there longer than expected.
He sort of sanctioned the movie in some way, didn't he?
Yeah. Oh yeah, it's such a relief. I mean you want these people to like the movie. That's the most important reaction. He supported us all the way through and he's very happy with the result.
You've got a guy who never wants to grow up in James Hunt [Hemsworth], and then there's you [as Lauda], who seems to have never been a boy. Niki always seems to have been the super serious adult. Did you see him that way?
Yeah. He is, and has always been, a very focused man. He didn't have an easy life because his family didn't want him to be a race driver, so from very early on when he was a teenager, he had to fight against obstacles and fight his way into Formula 1. He took high risks. Not only physically as a driver but also economically. He's a tough, tough businessman and he's still around, still very successful. And if you have such focus and you're so disciplined, then yeah. It helps.
How amazing was the driving in "Rush"? What was that like for you?
It was an amazing experience because I like to drive and I like to drive fast. As you know, on the Autobahn in Germany, we don't have limits so I enjoy it, but it's completely different thing to sit in a race car, in our case a Formula 3 car. A Formula 3 car is already quite, quite fast. And the sensation of speed is much higher when you're low to the ground. The noise of the car is incredible. Your whole body vibrates and it smells of gasoline. I totally got the addiction to it. I absolutely felt the adrenaline and understood why young boys want to become a race driver. I would be a terrible race driver, though.
I realized that after the movie. I have so much more respect now after having done the movie, because it's so difficult to be in control of that beast of that machine. So it's easy to drive fast, but if something unpredictable happens it's very, very hard to control it.
How would you describe your relationship with Chris Hemsworth in "Rush"? Because you're not buddies, you're antagonists...
We didn't need that fake rivalry to get into our parts. In fact, we invented our own romantic comedy and love relationship between Hunt and Lauda in-between takes. Would have been an interesting movie, too. [Laughs] But he's a very laid-back Australian surfer kind of guy. I mean, it's very difficult to dislike him.
What do you want people to take away from "Rush"?
Don't drink and drive. [Laughs] Don't drive in the rain.
Can you talk about moving scene when you were in the hospital?
Oh yeah, that was terrible. I had to have a piece of bread here [points to his neck] down the throat so that they couldn't really push that tube. So it was really unpleasant, which makes that scene so horrible, but that's how it should look like.
Couldn't that have been a special effect?
[Laughs] What I like about this movie is that whenever it was possible it was not CGI, it was real. Also, the racing stuff, our precision drivers did the most incredible things. You really have the impression that you're in the race and it's so difficult to do. With these tiny cameras that were hidden by the engine block, in the car, or in the helmet, you have this claustrophobic feeling.
You said that you understood for the first time watching the movie how hard it was for people to actually look at him after the race, when he was so scarred and he'd lost his ear?
And it happened to me, too. Sometimes I had this prosthetic makeup, which by the way took six or seven hours. Sometimes I was picked up at 3:00 a.m. I was looking at the call sheet and it said, "Chris Hemsworth, pick up at 10 a.m." First scene, Chris Hemsworth kissing a nurse. Second scene Chris Hemsworth making love on a plane. Third scene, Niki Lauda checking his tires. [Laughs] And, by the way, Chris entered the makeup trailer was like "Hey!" [Laughs]
But then it was very helpful, this prosthetic makeup, because sometimes I would step on set and some extras didn't realize that it was fake. They were really shocked when they saw me, and that made me understand what Niki had gone through.
"Rush" opens in theatres on September 27.
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