A Minute With: Daniel Bruhl on the 'Rush' of playing Niki Lauda

Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:58pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - German actor Daniel Bruhl will be a fixture in U.S. movie theaters this fall with leading roles in two major releases - auto racing rivalry tale "Rush" and the WikiLeaks drama "The Fifth Estate."

In director Ron Howard's "Rush," the 35-year-old Bruhl had the challenge of playing former Formula One racer Niki Lauda in the transformative 1976 season. Not only is the Austrian driver hard to please, but he was also severely disfigured in a fiery crash that year, only to come back and race weeks later.

Bruhl plays opposite Chris Hemsworth, who portrays James Hunt, the hard-partying playboy British driver who battled Lauda for the championship that year in one of Formula One's most memorable rivalries. The film opens in U.S. theaters this weekend.

The Berlin-based Bruhl, who was born in Spain, made his international breakthrough as the son in 2003's German dark comedy "Good Bye, Lenin!" He also had the role of a German war hero in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" in 2009.

Bruhl talked to Reuters about winning over Lauda, learning about his fear, and the Austrian's suggestion about traveling with hand luggage.

Q: You have two co-leads in two top films showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. How did that happen?

A: I sensed after "Inglourious Basterds" that there was a very positive change and a rising exchange between film cultures. Americans would go to Europe to shoot their movies, and not only because of tax reasons but also because the characters came from there or the stories were set in Europe.

When I went to the "Rush" audition, I was blown away by the script. I thought it was fantastic. I wanted to play the part but I thought I am very, very different and Niki and I don't have that much in common. I was quite surprised when I got the call after the first audition after three days and my agent said, "Ron is offering you the part." I sensed these things are possible now. And that's good, I think, because it makes these movies more authentic.   Continued...

Cast member Daniel Bruehl poses on the red carpet with girlfriend Felicitas Rombold before a screening of the film "Rush" at Roy Thomson Hall during the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Blacker