Back in August, E3 Spark Plugs shared a behind-the-scenes video of the making of Rush, a Ron Howard-helmed feature film that tells the story of the rivalry between Formula 1 greats James Hunt and Niki Lauda. With the recent release of the film’s theatrical trailer, we’re more excited than ever for the September premier.
Rush stars Australian actor Chris Hemsworth as the handsome and flamboyant playboy Hunt, and Inglorious Basterds star Daniel Brühl as his methodical, brilliant opponent Lauda. As the trailer shows, the two were, at times, the closest of friends and the fiercest of competitors. They spent much of their motorsports careers in heated on-track battles in some of racing’s biggest races during the sexy, speed-crazed golden age of Formula 1 in the 1970s.
The film focuses on the storied 1976 season. A week before the Grand Prix, Lauda attempted to stage a boycott of the race, citing serious safety risks of the 23-kilometer circuit, but his fellow drivers voted the move down. On the second lap of the race, Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track, hit an embankment, rolled back into the path of another car and burst into flames. Lauda suffered severe burns to his head, inhaled hot toxic gases that damaged his lungs and blood and lapsed into a coma. He woke with extensive scarring, having lost most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and eyelids. Despite the horrific experience, Lauda shocked the racing world by returning to the track just six weeks later to battle Hunt for the F1 world championship.
For Hemsworth, role preparation meant a drastic weight loss. He underwent a remarkable regimen to pare down the 235-pound Norse god physique he had developed for his role in Marvel’s The Avengers franchise as the hammer-wielding hero Thor to a build closer to the real Hunt’s 175 pounds, enabling him to fit into the narrow confines of a Formula 1 racecar cockpit.
Both actors underwent intensive driving training to learn how to handle authentic racecars and spent a full two weeks in on-track rehearsals to master a few of Hunt’s and Lauda’s signature moves.
“The scenes we were throwing them into were particularly dangerous,” Howard told reporters. The actors “had to get good enough so that they could come tearing into the pit stops and then accelerate out. And that’s around people, and that’s harnessing the power of those machines in a situation that really requires precision.”
Hemsworth and Brühl shot racing scenes at speeds of around 100 miles per hour – impressive feats, though the cars they drove are capable of going 180.
Rush was shot on location in the U.K., Germany and Austria and also stars Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy) and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) in supporting roles as the racers’ love interests. It’s set for release September 20.