The glitz and the glamour of last night’s RUSH premiere in Melbourne was uncannily reminiscent of Formula One in the 1970s.
Ron Howard’s Formula One-inspired drama made its much anticipated Australian debut at Crown Entertainment Complex last night with a host of Australian motorsport identities on hand to witness it, and RichardsF1.com was there in the thick of it!
Only hours before the Singapore Grand Prix kicked off over 6,000 kilometres away, one would be forgiven for questioning whether Crown Casino was intending to stage a Grand Prix of its own.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation spared no expense in encapsulating the thrilling world of Formula One, with the arrivals area featuring a ‘chequered’ carpet, a full-blown Formula one machine and a selection of grid girls waving chequered flags.
The first big name arrival on the chequered carpet was Alan Jones, the 1980 Formula One title winner and one of only two Australians to ever claim individual F1 glory in the form of a World Championship. Driving for the Shadow tem, Jones was himself new to the Formula One scene at the peak of the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt in 1976; however he was categorically in the best position to comment on Ron Howard’s depiction of the incredible 1970s F1 period.
“He [Ron Howard] has been very clever and very accurate portraying the atmosphere of that era,” Jones told RichardsF1.com, having already seen the finished product earlier in the day.
“As a film it has got a bit of everything, it’s not necessarily going to be just for rev-heads.”
Having competed against both Hunt and Lauda during his stellar Formula One career, Jones was quick to praise its stars, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, for their depictions of James Hunt and Niki Lauda respectively.
“(They were) very accurate – I think both of the actors did a fantastic job with their roles,” he added.
Also present on the chequered carpet was Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott, who had flown back to Melbourne from Singapore – where he had been working with Bernie Ecclestone on a deal to extend the Grand Prix’s contract – in order to attend the RUSH premiere.
“Lots of people in the paddock said it’s sensational – I can’t wait to see it,” he told us, referring to the general chatter among the F1 fraternity in Singapore.
Although he hadn’t yet seen the film, Westcott was keen to relay the positive appraisals regarding Ron Howard’s recreation of the contrasting personae of Lauda and Hunt.
“[They were portrayed] exceptionally well, the people who know Niki Lauda very closely and who actually worked with James Hunt said that it is exceptional,” Westacott added.
“The Grand Prix Corporation is very pleased to be working with Hopscotch Films [to promote its release in Australia].”
The local V8 Supercars Championship was also well represented at the film’s premiere, with Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison, David Reynolds, Tony D’Alberto and Garth Tander among the VIPs invited to the screening.
Having dipped a toe into open-wheel racing in his younger years, HRT driver Tander conveyed his eagerness to watch RUSH in its entirety.
“[I’m] looking forward to watching it – I’m hearing a lot of good things about the movie,” he told us.
“I’ve seen a lot of clips along the way so I’m looking forward to seeing it all pieced together.”
“I think a lot of guys would like to think they are the James Hunt, and a lot of guys would probably like to think they are the Niki Lauda,” he joked, when invited to liken any of his fellow drivers to the legendary subjects of Ron Howard’s film.
“David Reynolds probably classes himself as James Hunt but I think that’s self-appointed. There are a lot of characters in our sport, but [Hunt and Lauda] are the real deal,” he said.
Daniel Bruhl, the Spanish-born German actor responsible for playing Niki Lauda in RUSH, easily drew the greatest attention on the chequered carpet. Bruhl’s uncanny portrayal of Niki Lauda has conjured widespread acclaim from motorsport figures and film critics alike, and there already whispers of a possible Academy Awards nomination.
Speaking with RichardsF1.com, Bruhl expressed his relief at the manner in which the film has been received within the F1 circles.
“We were very happy that the Formula One world loved the movie – standing ovations and everybody loved it,” the 35-year-old said, describing the special screening of the film during the German Grand Prix, which had many high-level F1 figures in attendance.
“It was a very intense preparation because we (he and Niki) don’t have that much in common, so I had to learn how to drive race cars,” said the amiable German.
“I did a Formula 3 course at first on my own and then with Chris, and then I spent over a month in Vienna to get Niki’s accent right and his body language.”
Bruhl also left no stone unturned in his physical preparation to play a Formula One driver who is subjected to hours of physical exertion during a Grand Prix weekend.
“I had to lose weight and do a lot of running,” he added.
“Everybody told me to train the neck muscles and that was easy shooting with Chris Hemsworth because I always had to look up there,” he laughed, referring to the height difference between he and his co-star.
Equipped with a greater knowledge of Formula One and its history having been a huge fan of the sport when he was a child, Bruhl was also able to gain a sense of the wholesale disparities between modern-day Formula One compared with the sport almost 40 years ago.
“It was pure rock ‘n’ roll,” Bruhl said of the period in which RUSH is set.
“It was wild in the seventies with all of these flamboyant rock ‘n’ roll kind of drivers like James Hunt, and Niki was kind of a pioneer of the modern driver for the seventies.”
“The movie is just fantastic, I am very happy with the result,” he said of the final product.
“It’s not only dealing with one of the most exciting rivalries in the sport’s history but it’s also a very intense drama.”
RUSH will open to the Australian public on October 3. Be sure to make RichardsF1.com your primary source for all of the news and reviews leading up to its release. Our full review of the movie will be published on October 1.
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