We’ve always been intrigued as to how the sport of Formula 1 could crack the big screen, especially after 2001’s disastrous “Driven” starring Sylvester Stallone. As dramatic and illustrious as the sport can be, at its core it’s still a slow-burning, strategic game of inches set mostly under helmets, on radios and in garages with a limited following — the race itself hasn’t hit American shores since 2007, for instance, although is returning to Indiannapolis this year.
Last year, however, the compelling documentary about maverick racer Ayrton Senna proved it was definitely possible and it didn’t take long for Hollywood to try and follow its lead. Ron Howard took over the helm from Paul Greengrass and teamed with Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon“) for “Rush,” the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt‘s famous rivalry.
Fast forward to today; we now have our first look at “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth portraying British driver Hunt and it’s probably as spot on as Hollywood can get. It looks like they’re shooting the Japanese Grand Prix which played a crucial role in the rivalry as the concluding race in the ’76 and ’77 season. No glimpse as of yet at Daniel Bruhl who’ll play Lauda or the rest of the cast which includes Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Christian McKay and Natalie Dormer.
A fresh, talened cast? Check. A great writer with proven biographical experience? Check. A helmer who can handle sport and drama? Perhaps, but what “Senna” did so well was focus on the characters so that the stakes on race day went well beyond who won or lost. Lauda and Hunt’s rivalry is a story which is somehwat comparable to Senna’s but can Howard and Morgan replicate the success? We’ll have to wait and see. [Celebuzz/Collider/DailyMail]