'Rush' screenwriter inspired by rivalry, not Formula One racing

Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:31pm EDT
 
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The fast-paced and adrenaline-filled drama "Rush" may be one of the most engaging films about the world of Formula One racing, but British screenwriter Peter Morgan says he couldn't be less of a fan of the elite motor sport.

Morgan, a two-time best-writing Oscar nominee for 2006's "The Queen" and 2008's "Frost/Nixon," simply wanted to tell a tale of rivalry between an Austrian and an Englishman. As it happens, the battle for the 1976 F1 championship between Niki Lauda and James Hunt fit perfectly into Morgan's plans.

"Rush," from Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, goes into wide release in the United States this weekend. Critics have warmly received the film and praised Morgan's script, with New York Times critic Manohla Dargis saying it's a sports story that "Peter Morgan strips down to its satisfying, straightforward core."

But had it not been for "Fritz," an unwanted nickname unceremoniously bestowed on Morgan, the script for "Rush" might have never left the starting boxes.

"Fritz" was the moniker Morgan's English public schoolmates used to tease him because his parents were German immigrants. As an adult, Morgan found himself on the other side when he married an Austrian woman, moved to Vienna and was teased for being a Brit.

"I thought no one was ever going to come to me and say 'Please will you write a story about an Austrian and an Englishman and examine the cultural differences between the two?' That would never occur to anybody," Morgan said in a recent interview.

"So I thought 'I'll write it because it interests me.'"

'LIKE A LOVE STORY'   Continued...

 
Screenwriter Peter Morgan arrives at the closing night screening of "Hereafter" at the 48th New York Film Festival October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi