It’s not a feature film about Ayrton Senna, but it will do. Ron Howard has been slowly putting the pieces of his true-life Formula 1 film Rush together, with scarce word about casting beyond the principal roles of Niki Lauda and James Hunt, but with the film recently starting production, that’s changing quickly. Olivia Wilde is reportedly joining the film, and she may not be alone, as Howard is apparently hoping to add Russell Crowe in a somewhat amusing and pretty spot-on role.
Wilde’s role is a plum one – she’ll play 1970s supermodel Suzy Miller, who Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) married in 1974. Though the two were in love, Hunt was a bit of a womanizer (okay, fine, he reportedly slept with thirty-three British Airways flight attendants during a two-week period alone). Needless to say, Hunt and Miller’s marriage was short-lived, and not just because of Hunt’s catting around, but because Miller subsequently fell in love with Richard Burton (the role that Howard would like to see Crowe take on). As if the romantic entanglements of the three didn’t sound complicated enough, Burton was still married to Elizabeth Taylor when he fell in love with Miller in 1975, and the actor was no less than twice the former model’s age. Yet, in a weird twist of fate, Hunt was reportedly already trying to get rid of Miller, so when she fell so quickly in love with Burton, they all agreed to get divorces, and Burton agreed to pay Miller the $1m divorce settlement that Hunt would have been on the hook for. Burton and Miller were married for just six years, but that’s one story that will live on forever, and that’s just a subplot in Howard’s film.
Rush will really focus on the iconic rivalry between Formula 1 drivers Hunt and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). The film will center mainly on the 1976 Formula 1 season, an athletic season that was truly one for the ages. Lauda and Hunt were consistently at the top of their sport, but that’s not the root of the film’s drama – it’s the horrific, fiery accident at the German Grand Prix that scarred Lauda to the point that he was unable to properly close his eyes due to severe burns. Despite his burns, other damage to his lungs and blood, and a period spent in a coma, Lauda was back to racing in just six weeks, desperate to make up the points he had lost during his recuperation, lost points that could have allowed Hunt to win that year’s World Championship.
Did I mention that Lauda’s return to racing happened before he had the reconstructive surgery that would allow him to close his eyes? Because that definitely happened.
Wilde has already got a full slate, with two new releases coming up (Butter, In Time), three films either completed or in post-production (Welcome to People, Blackbird, The Words), with three films in pre-production (The Longest Week, Better Living Through Chemistry, and the rumored Lovelace). However, it’s fair to assume that none of those film will have quite the same amount of romantic drama and trauma of Rush. [Deadline Larvotto]