Supermodels and Teammates: Supporting Cast
No man is an island, and each of the talented co-
stars elevated the performances of the Rush troupe. To a
person, the supporting cast was committed to not doing
impressions, but capturing the essence of the characters
they were honored to portray.
Olivia Wilde, known to audiences from her work on
the medical drama House, M.D., as well as such films as
TRON: Legacy and Drinking Buddies, plays Suzy Miller
Hunt, the famous model whom James marries, then
neglects. The actress jumped at the chance to work with
Howard. "Ron is incredibly collaborative," she gives.
"He trusts his actors and crew, hiring the right people for
their parts in the machine and then he lets it roll. That's
why there are all these lightning-in-a-bottle moments
that make his films so effective. He understands both the emotional and technical side of acting, marrying
those two challenges to bring a character to life and get
it into the film appropriately."
The actress found her character -- who went on
to have a torrid love affair with Richard Burton -- the
perfect foil for Hunt. She suggests: "Suzy is everything
James would have wanted at that high point of his
career, when everything was exciting and new. Then, as
time goes on, things become more difficult. They have
to grow up, and we see Suzy become more conscious
of what she needs in order to be happy. She can't live
for James and take care of him as he needs. She has to
take care of herself."
While many co-stars clamor for more screen time,
Wilde has a refreshing take on her part. She shares:
"Sometimes, you read a scene and don't understand the
significance of it in the story. But when you shoot it,
you understand why it's a vital piece. In my supporting
role there's one scene in particular that felt that way:
when Suzy watches James win the championship. It's
everything he's ever wanted, and she wants it for him.
She has an incredibly emotional reaction to it, and you
sense her love for him. It humanizes him, and certainly
her as well. That was the moment when I felt proud
of what we had done with that small slice of the story
because it's not just a failed love affair.
There was something tragic about what
they tried to do but couldn't. Still, there
was a part of their love that survived,
Hunt wasn't the only driver to
feel the passionate love of a gorgeous
woman. Romanian-born Alexandra
Maria Lara, known for her work in
such diverse projects as Anton Corbijn's
Control, Francis Ford Coppola's Youth
Without Youth and Stephen Daldry's The
Reader, was brought aboard to portray
Lauda's wife Marlene. Lara echoes
Wilde's sentiments about their captain:
"Ron's amazing because he has this incredible energy
that makes younger people look rather lazy. There were
so many details he had to concentrate on that needed
to be perfect. At the same time, he laughs a lot and is
a very warm person as well. He makes an actor feel
comfortable, free and good on the set. I was absolutely
blown away. I really loved working with Ron."
In contrast to the jetsetter that was Suzy Miller,
Marlene Lauda is the ever-supportive wife and
partner, even after her husband's disfiguring accident.
"We shot some very intense scenes in the hospital
after the accident," Lara provides. "As difficult as it
was for her to imagine her husband risking his life
on the track again, she had no choice but to say, 'You
have to carry on.' That was incredible to me because
at first Marlene thinks she has lost her husband, that
there was no chance of surviving this tragic accident.
The whole experience must have been so traumatic
and heartbreaking. But she was the type of woman
who understood his passion and didn't stop him from
getting back into the car."
Of course, not all of Marlene and Niki's time
together was tragedy. "We also shot a scene where
they spend some wonderful days together before the
accident," provides Lara. "He relaxes a little bit, maybe for the first time. It's a moment in which he realizes he
has something to live for besides racing."
Coincidentally, Lara and Bruhl share the same
agent, but they'd not worked together before. Still, their
chemistry clicked from the beginning. "I was very
impressed after the read-through," Lara says. "They
can be quite a dry thing normally, many people sitting
around the table, but Daniel gave a good impression
of how he would play the part. In my opinion, it's a
Italian-native PIERFRANCESCO FAVINO, who
co-starred in Howard's Angels & Demons and was last
seen in World War Z, was brought on to portray Lauda's
competition at Ferrari, infamous Swiss driver Clay
Regazzoni. Coincidentally, Favino had done an Italian
television film about Enzo Ferrari and was familiar
with this world. Eager to once again work with Howard,
the performer advises Regazzoni was a childhood hero:
"I remember him from his big moustache and the fact
that he was Swiss-Italian. We were all great fans of
him." As he researched more of the F1 world, Favino
became fascinated by the "hyper-human heroes who
face the possibility of death -- and the adrenaline rush
that comes with it -- every day."
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Christian McKay plays
Lord Hesketh, a major influence in James Hunt's early
racing career. Alexander Hesketh, the Third Baron
Hesketh, was a motor racing enthusiast who used money
from a large inheritance to fund Hesketh Racing. Hunt,
who was about the same age as the baron, started with
Hesketh in Formula 3 and eventually moved up with a
Hesketh car to F1, until his patron ran short of funds. The
flamboyant lord and his team were perfect fits for Hunt.
McKay remarks that he was intrigued by the jingoism
and ancient rivalries Morgan elucidated in his script. He
says, "Lord Hesketh is one of those rather wonderful,
larger-than-life characters that you couldn't invent. We
met people who knew him who said he was even more
outrageous than I'm playing him, which is quite a thing.
He spent his family's entire fortune on Formula 1. Later,
this incredible character became chief whip in the House
of Lords for John Major's government."
STEPHEN MANGAN, of Billy Elliot fame, co-
stars as Alastair Caldwell, Hunt's chief mechanic
at McLaren who served as a technical and historical
realism consultant on Rush. Mangan had both the
advantage and the added challenge of having the real
Caldwell's presence on set: "It was fantastic to have the
real guy right there. Fantastic and slightly annoying,
because if you get anything wrong he'll go, 'No, it
wasn't like that.' So I'd have to say, 'We're making a
film, not a documentary."
British sitcom Green Wing's JULIAN RHIND-TUTT was cast as Anthony "Bubbles" Horsley,
Hunt's chief mechanic at Hesketh. "Bubbles was
one of James' principal mechanics in the early part
of his career and remained a confidante throughout
his racing life," Rhind-Tutt says. "They were a very
close-knit team, and I think Bubbles viewed Lauda the
same as James. He was part of the rivalry and one of
the strategists for Hunt's tactics. I didn't get to meet
Bubbles before filming, but we have done a lot of
research into the team dynamics and the group that
was supporting James. We hope we've captured the
flavor of that camaraderie."
Providing the on-screen racing commentary is
Cloud Atlas'ALISTAIR PETRIE, who portrayed
legendary driver-turned-analyst Stirling Moss. "Moss
was retired by the time Hunt and Lauda were racing in
1976 but he was still very much a part of that world,"
Petrie says. "He showed James Hunt the ropes and, I
think, a few good times in Monaco. Formula 1 is built
on the rivalries. There are team rivalries in other sports
but with racing, it's a man in a car against another man
in a car. Hunt and Lauda's rivalry was one of the most
famous. I think the public took to their relationship
because of the nature of a sporting rivalry, which we all
love to live vicariously through."
Rounding out the team is Goya's Ghosts' DAVID
CALDER, who portrays Louis Stanley, the colorful chair of British Racing Motors; The Hunger Games:
Mockingjay's NATALIE DORMER as Gemma, Hunt's
extremely attentive nurse; and The Bourne Ultimatum's
COLIN STINTON as American racing entrepreneur
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