When a filmmaker makes a movie based on historical events, there’s added pressure to do the real-life story justice on top of creating a quality film. Much of the additional stress comes in the form of casting, and when Ron Howard wanted to tell the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt’s legendary rivalry in “Rush,” casting the latter became an issue.
An exclusive clip that MTV News is debuting as part of our Fall Movie Preview demonstrates just how important the rivalry between the on-screen Lauda and Hunt is for “Rush.”
As Howard told MTV News in an interview, casting Daniel Brühl as Lauda, the celebrated Austrian Formula One racer, was surprisingly easy. Peter Morgan, who wrote “Rush,” “Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen,” suggested the “Inglourious Basterds” standout for the role, and Howard was inclined to agree with the pick.
“Brühl is like a chameleon. He’s like one of those actors. Every generation has maybe two, but most often one. He’s a real artist, a great guy to work with,” Howard said. “In talking to him, I could tell how challenged he was and determined to created Niki Lauda, a character that’s known very well internationally.”
Hunt, the British driver who would challenge Lauda just days after a serious crash, was another matter altogether. “We immediately had a great Lauda, but every bit as important — if not more important — was James Hunt, also an icon and tougher to immediately fill, so that was a matter of casting,” Howard said. “I started meeting some people, started thinking about it, and it wasn’t going very well. I thought, ‘Maybe we’re just not going to be able to do this movie.’ ”
That’s when producer Brian Grazer, a man who knows a thing or two about the business, suggested Chris Hemsworth, still a relatively fresh face after appearing in “Star Trek” and “Thor.” Howard had seen Hemsworth before but wasn’t certain that he was right for the role. That’s when Hemsworth took matters into his own hands.
“I asked Chris if he would audition, and he couldn’t because he was doing ‘Avengers.’ The next day, or literally within 36 hours, I had a self-made audition that he did, just from his hotel room from location in Albuquerque,” Howard said. “It was unbelievable. Brian [Grazer] was right. We had our Hunt. Suddenly, it was done. We had a great young cast, and they were gifted and right for the roles. Ultimately, it was the easiest time I had casting a movie.”
“Rush” opens in theaters on September 27.