TIFF: 'Rush' puts Hemsworth and Bruhl in the fast lane
05:00 AM, Sep 08, 2013
TORONTO Rush is a lot of things: an adrenaline-fueled true story of fierce Formula One rivals from the ’70s, an independently funded Ron Howard movie with a major studio-backed release, and, most importantly, a movie that allows two actors to shine in a bold new way.
That’s right. Thor’s Chris Hemsworth has de-bulked and dropped the hammer, delivering a powerful performance as rules-eschewing James Hunt, a sex-addicted daredevil determined to win the World Championship in 1976. And Daniel Bruhl (who is winning raves for his portrayal of Julian Assange’s second-in-command in The Fifth Estate) plays Niki Lauda, Hunt’s calculating, terse Austrian rival whose Ferrari edged out Hunt race after race until he suffered a terrible crash halfway through the season.
Both actors assembled on Saturday at the Park Hyatt with Howard, who also has Jay Z documentary Made in America at the film fest (it sold to Showtime before its debut here). Hemsworth helpfully drops a beat at its mention. “It’s been an experimental year of following my curiosities,” says Howard, who knew little of the Formula One world before becoming fascinated by this particular rivalry.
“I love Toronto,” said Bruhl, a Spanish-born German actor whose biggest film in the USA to date was Inglourious Basterds. “In Cannes there’s much more pressure and hysteria.”
“Or more desperation,” says Howard, thanks to the dizzying sales atmosphere at the French festival. Here, the director is looking forward to seeing friends. “I hear Matthew McConaughey’s here, so I’m going to try to connect with him.”
Both Hemsworth and Bruhl’s careers are in the midst of a Toronto bump, and Rush won’t even premiere until Sunday. For Hemsworth, it’s a chance to show his acting chops after gaining popularity in the Marvel universe. “I understood James’ want to prove something to himself, that he had that right to be there,” he says.
Rush, which hits theaters Sept. 27, “is an amazing new step for me,” says Bruhl, and one with clear effects: “I’m getting offers and interest from people I’ve always admired,” he says. “I can’t believe this is happening. It’s an important and exciting moment in my life.”
Thanks to its independent beginnings, Rush escapes easy hero/villain tropes and studio pressure to clean up Hunt and Lauda’s rivalry. Instead, it portrays both purely as they were, warts and all. “The biggest thing that I hooked into was both of these guys were take-it-or-leave-it, this is who I am,” says Hemsworth. “James’ point of view was live life to the fullest, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?”
Howard laughs sharing a sample reaction after the real Lauda who consulted with the filmmaker and Bruhl on the film saw a few frames of Hemsworth playing his former rival (Hunt died of a heart attack at age 45 in 1993).
“(Expletive)!” says Howard, putting on an Austrian accent. “Sounds like James too!”