Releasing this week and racing into the hearts of moviegoers everywhere is Ron Howard’s Rush. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl and Olivia Wilde, the film tells the thrilling tale of one of sports’ greatest rivalries, that of F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The two competed fiercely in the 1970s and their story is one of the best that the sport has to offer.
Recently, we caught up with star Chris Hemsworth at the Toronto International Film Festival where he was promoting the film. During a roundtable interview, the actor spoke about all things Rush. He told us what type of training he did, what the scariest scenes to shoot were, how he toned down for the role and more.
Check it out below and enjoy!
Were you always a fan of F1 racing before you heard of this movie?
Chris Hemsworth: I know Daniel [Bruhl] was a big fan but it didn’t really exist in my realm of activities while I was growing up. F1 was new to me and all my research ended up being isolated to what was going on with the sport in the 70’s, so before and after I don’t have much knowledge of. I certainly fell in love with that period and the sport at that time. It was right at the heart of its glamour and glory. It was a pretty special period.
Did you do any training before you got in the cars?
Chris Hemsworth: We did, we had about four weeks of driving. Through the shoot we actually did a lot more driving than we anticipated. It was a fast paced shoot and we only had a limited amount of days. There were days where they’d say “quick, jump in the car and do a few laps,” and they would mount cameras everywhere and we’d whip around. It was a lot of fun. We didn’t go full speed, of course, but we went fast enough to appreciate these vehicles.
What was the scariest part of the shoot?
Chris Hemsworth: Probably the nude scenes [laughs]. Those were more intimidating than the racing stuff. I love this script and this story and I think that it was intimidating to walk into because you’re playing a real life icon and there’s a lot of opinions on how it should be done. I took the attitude of just disregarding all the opinions and to just do it my way. I immersed myself in all the research I could but at the end of the day I just had to give my version of it.
How did you lose all the muscle you put on for your role as Thor in the Marvel films?
Chris Hemsworth: A lot of running and limited amount of food. I had such a short period to do it in. It’s one thing to burn fat, you just change your diet but here, I had to burn muscle. It’s tough, you kind of have to go into a state where your body eats itself. It has to burn through the fat first and then through the muscle, and that gets pretty uncomfortable. So that led to a pretty moody existence for people around me [laughs]. I couldn’t reduce my height obviously so I had to narrow myself. James actually always had a tough time getting in cars because he was so tall. I just had to under-eat and over-train though and kind of sweat it all off. It was very exhausting.
Would you agree that James used to behave in a way that was once idolized and is now condemned?
Chris Hemsworth: I think in that period of time, it was more acceptable, that kind of behaviour. Now you wouldn’t get away with it. Even then though people thought it was unacceptable. Why he got away with it is because he did it with such an honesty. The big thing that struck me about James is that he’s involved in a sport where people were dying every year, and I asked myself, what is the byproduct of that kind of lifestyle, where you’re involving yourself in something where you’re up against death every weekend?
Guys would distract themselves from that fear, like James, who used girls and parties and drugs to take his mind away from it. There was an incredible vulnerability to him. He had a deep need to be respected and acknowledged. He was in an industry with sponsorships and regulations and an image that needed to be upheld but he just wanted to do his own thing. He didn’t want to be told what to do. He wasn’t going to wear a suit and tie just because some sponsor told him to. There was times when James was probably chasing his shadow with his image. He was trying to stay too true to himself and prove a point that he actually drifted away from who he was. That’s when his most outrageous behaviour came out. For the most part though, there was a vulnerable human being in there.
A couple people we spoke to told us that there was a darker side to James, and that it wasn’t just all glamour and parties. There was something in there that you rarely got a glimpse of, but it existed. And those are the moments that aren’t really described in detail in the film, but you see his anxiety in there and whether it be the throwing up or the more subtle moments, we don’t really know what he’s thinking or how he’s feeling. And maybe he doesn’t either.