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Daniel Brühl On Why He Was Scared to Play Niki Lauda For Ron Howard in 'Rush' and His Rivalry With Chris Hemsworth

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire September 27, 2013 at 11:07AM

Best known stateside for his role as a devious Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds," Daniel Brühl is far from being a known name in America, despite being a bonafide celebrity in Germany thanks to the hit comedy "Good Bye, Lenin!" That's likely to change when Ron Howard's "Rush" opens wide today.

Brühl did some of his own racecar driving.

"More than expected. At first they were extremely concerned insurance-wise, which I can understand. But Chris [Hemsworth] and I weren't that clumsy so we were in sort of Formula 3 boot camp for a month. But of course all of the precision driving was done by professionals."

And had an accident on set.

Rush, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl

"A wheel came off the first time I tested my Ferrari. I spun. I was a bit nervous for three seconds, but then I turned around and I saw Chris and his mechanics smiling. And immediately in my paranoid German brain, I thought it was of their doing (laughs). I’ll never find out."

Brühl was jealous of Hemsworth on set.

"Only at the moments when I was picked up at three am to get the prosthetic makeup. I got mad because I’d sit there for six to seven hours. Sometimes I’d look at the call sheet and I remember one day it said Chris Hemsworth was to be picked up at 10 am. First scene was kissing a nurse. Second scene was making love on a plane. My scene was changing the tires."

Brühl wishes he was more like Lauda.

"I really envy Niki for his straightforwardness. It's really admirable. I'm a cautious, diplomatic, try-to-avoid conflicts type. Niki is just blunt. There's something attractive and brave about it. He taught me to lose fear. He told me at the beginning, 'Don’t give too much importance to what people say or think about you.' He said this because he knew that I was under pressure, especially as a German playing an Austrian. It was terrible at first. When I spent a month in Vienna trying to get the accent right, a lot of people who knew I was playing him would laugh, 'Good luck!'"

Lauda is unhappy with a scene from the film.

"I wanted to get some feedback early on so I could adjust things. He called me after seeing one scene, the one following the accident at the press conference. And he called me at six-o'clock in the morning. He was obsessed with details. He said, 'Oh, good, good, good but the wedding ring is bullshit. I never wore a wedding ring. I don’t want to see that ring again.'"

Brühl says "Rush" has opened doors.

"There’s a differing dynamic now. 'Rush' really helped me and Ron's support helped me get into 'The Fifth Estate.' I'm just realizing now that there is now interest from people I’ve always dreamt of working with."

Brühl owns three cars.

"I have one car that works, it's fast and safe: an Audi 5. And I have two old cars that never work: an old Peugeot convertible, and an Alfa Romeo Giulia. The Julia works better than the Peugeot."

This article is related to: Chris Hemsworth, Ron Howard, Rush, Awards, Daniel Brühl, Interviews, Zurich Film Festival, Features

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