"I made you suffer," Lauda deadpanned.
"Rush" took root when Morgan's Austrian wife, who knew Lauda because he had unsuccessfully asked her out more than three decades before, suggested a movie about Lauda and Hunt while the couple was vacationing in Ibiza. A few days later he and Lauda, who spends part of the year in Ibiza, were having lunch.
"To me, when I first heard it, this was a great story because you had a guy who is so prickly and so awkward and yet what he went through was so courageous," said Morgan, known for bringing real-life figures like Queen Elizabeth II and Richard Nixon to life on the screen (in "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon," respectively). "So how about him in conflict with the most beautiful Englishman who ever lived?"
Though Morgan and Lauda developed a friendship, one meeting with Morgan had the driver concerned that he didn't understand racing.
"Peter wrote down three sentences and said this is how I understood it," Lauda recalled. "He said, 'So you turn the key to the Ferrari.' And I said, 'Are you nuts? There is no key. You start with a button.'" He added. "I never had any worries with Peter. Except for the key."
Lauda is as blunt in person as he is in the film, though he's not without his playful side too. Describing the booing of the this season's runaway leader Vettel by the Ferrari faithful at the Italian Grand Prix a few weeks ago, he remarked ‘”I said, be careful stupid Italians; if he would be in a Ferrari you would kiss his…”
And though Hunt was the flashy one, Lauda is not without his own larger-than-life flourishes. He arrived at the "Rush" premiere in Toronto from this year's race at Monza by private jet that he flew himself. A few hours after the interview, he was scheduled to pilot it back home to Europe.
He has undergone several kidney transplants, most recently receiving the organ from a flight attendant 30 years his junior who — oh yes — he married in 2008. (He and his first wife, Marlene Knaus, divorced in 1991.)
Lauda continues to work as a Formula One commentator in Europe and serves as an elder statesman for the sport. He is non-executive chairman for the Mercedes F1 team, where he mentors other drivers, including, in an ironic twist, the talented young Brit Lewis Hamilton.
Whether NASCAR-crazed Americans will see a film about Formula One remains a question. That's perhaps why the movie, although it's a Universal Pictures release, was financed for under $45 million and was funded outside the studio by entities such as Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media.
Reviews for "Rush" have been strong, and the early fan buzz, especially among F1 devotees, is good too. At a Toronto party for the movie, young men and women lined up at a table where Bruhl, Hemsworth and Lauda were sitting. Surprisingly, they took as many photos with Lauda as they did with the two actors.
"You have a new career as a movie star," Bruhl later ribbed him. Lauda waved his hand dismissively. "No, never," he said.
But then Lauda got reflective about racing.“James could have won a lot of championships if he had the discipline. He had the natural talent. He could have made my life much more difficult.” the driver said. Then he added with Laudia-esque matter-of-factness, “Thank God he went the other way.”
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