In my very first week writing for THN I got sent to the press junket for Ron Howard’s Rush. I went from having no experience with celebrities outside of convention meet and greets, to sitting down with a small group of actual established journalists around a table with Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, and Ron Howard. It was all very daunting, and although I didn’t manage to get any questions in with Howard – due to one of the other press members being more forceful in asking their questions – I did get some in with the rest.
Known best now for his part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Zemo, Daniel Brühl is the first person I ever interviewed within a round-table (or otherwise) set-up. In Rush he gives an award-deserving performance as Formula One legend Niki Lauda. Lauda famously got into a hideous crash during a race, suffering awful burns all over his face and body. Considering he was so unrecognisable in the piece, when Brühl initially sat down, I mistakenly thought he was just another member of the press. It wasn’t until others around me started to ask him questions that the penny finally dropped. For my question, I delved into the filming of those ick hospital scenes.
There is a really intense scene in the hospital where Niki has to have his lungs vacuumed, how was this to film because on screen it’s really uncomfortable to view.
Yeah, it was a bit ugly and I had to choke. I really had to choke and we had to find a trick so that this tube comes in, so I had to eat a little piece of bread so that he could really push…(laughs)
It’s sounding even worse now…
…So there’s this piece of bread at the back of your mouth, and it was a bit ugly, and it wasn’t pleasant. But it was good, I mean it helped me to, because it is a terrible moment. The make up for these scenes was even worse. It was this blown-up version and Alexandra told me she didn’t need to act [as] there was no acting required when she came in that room. She didn’t want to see it before that, she just wanted to see it when we shot the first take, and I could tell, you know, from her reaction, how bad it looked, and it was painful. And this was something that I asked Niki, but the thing is, out of a self-defense system, he doesn’t remember – he doesn’t recall anything of that. He doesn’t remember the accident at all. When he watched that footage shot by that boy, which was the only material that you would have, he said [it was] as if it wasn’t him. He just didn’t remember anything. He remembers parts of the things that happened in the hospital; also with the priest, which was terrible, giving him the last rites, but not a lot. It doesn’t seem human, it seems like a miracle. I can’t understand how a person after forty days in hospital could possibly get back into the car and go on driving.
After speaking with Daniel Brühl, we were ushered into a room with Olivia Wilde who I can attest to being as stunning in person as she looks on film. Of the four at the junket, Wilde played the character with the fewest scenes and most of the questions seemed to focus in on the real-life woman that she played. When it was my turn for a question, I branched out slightly and asked about how making a film like Rush differs to a more effects heavy film like TRON: Legacy.
How did working on a film like RUSH differ with some of the more special effects heavy film like TRON?
Well so much emphasis is put on the writing a script that is rock solid when you walk into it, as opposed to being rewritten at lunchtime, that’s always nice. The quality of everyone involved. I’ve had a chance to work with some really amazing people in my career and on films that are more special effects driven. Tron specifically, getting to work with Jeff Bridges, and that whole special effects team was really extraordinary, but the emphasis was put on the technical side of it there. And here special effects was used just to further the story; everyone’s energy was put towards doing this story justice, and the emotional part of it was such an important thing for all of us. That’s really what I think people are surprised by when they see the film, that its not just a racing film, that it’s a love story between James and Niki, and of course between them and their respective wives. Its just, its so emotional, there’s so much heart in it and I think that’s really the mark of a Ron Howard film.
Alexandra Maria Lara
Alexandra Maria Lara plays Niki Lauda’s wife Marlene in Rush. Once again, most of the questions focused on her research and interaction with the real counterpart. I opted to speak about with her film version of Marlene and how she makes the rather polarising Lauda more human and likeable.
You character was a big part of making Niki seem appealing, she was able to draw that out of him. How did you feel about the character importance?
Thank you. Well you know I think the women are very much in the background obviously but that can be relevant as well. Because if you don’t have these female characters, if you only have the two men then something would be missing I think. At the same time you’re absolutely right there wasn’t so much room or space you know, theres not a big dialogue scene or the big monologue where Marlene tells Niki what she really thinks of him, which I would have loved to do in a Ron Howard film. But you have to work with the few bits that are given to you, and for me some of the more exciting moments acting wise were these moments in the hospital. Really at the end of the day I have to say not much acting was required [in these scenes] because when I [first saw him], I didn’t want to see Daniel with this most extreme makeup. In the hospital when they take the bandages off and Marlene comes in and sees him for the first time it really took my breath away. I didn’t have to think of anything sad or find a way to [act upset], I just looked at him and it really got to me.
These interview snippets first appeared on THN as part of full junket round-ups.