Daniel Brühl doesn’t know what time it is anymore. “I’m in Vienna, jumping up and down. People call me Niki Lauda here. They don’t call me Daniel,” he says, thrilled about his first Golden Globe nomination for portraying the legendary Austrian Formula One champion in Rush. He called Lauda immediately. He’s a very competitive guy, I think he’s very happy and pleased that I got a nomination.”
The 35 year old actor of German and Spanish descent (his mother is from Barcelona where he spent parts of his childhood discussing soccer and their favorite team FC Barcelona with his grandfather) started acting at 14 in a German TV-series. He first got noticed internationally in Good Bye, Lenin! which was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004. He went on to play parts in The Bourne Ultimatum, Inglourious Basterds and 2 Days in New York among others. This year he also starred as Daniel Berg in The Fifth Estate before shooting to international stardom in Rush.
During the production, Brühl had Niki Lauda on speed dial. “The script was so good, we didn’t have to change that much. But I called him quite often because I wanted to get the emotions right. And then there was the technical stuff where one word sounded odd to me and wasn’t quite like Niki would say it. I was so thankful that I could call him 24/7 and he would always call me back immediately and give me advice. That was very helpful, not just to me but also to everybody else involved in the movie to have his support all the way through. And he is so frank he would have told me if he didn’t like it. But the more often he saw the film the more emotional he got. There were screenings in Vienna and Toronto where he had tears in his eyes. It was like a catharsis for him.”
Lauda is very pleased with the film despite being portrayed - as he puts it – “a rude, tough, unsympathetic asshole. And now,” the racing champion adds, “everyone is coming up to me with tears in their eyes saying how much they love me. Why? How is this possible?” he wonders. “I think it’s because unfortunately the movie is 100% honest and accurate.” And he heaps praise on the young actor. “Daniel Brühl IS me. He is amazing.”
The film was a tremendous success all over the world except the U.S., something the actor hopes will change now. “I really hope that more Americans will now see the movie. Maybe at first they weren’t interested because they didn’t know the story. Once people see it, they love it and that makes me very happy especially for Ron Howard, because he did the best job with it. I would say it’s one of the best films in that genre ever.”
Brühl will next be seen in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man along with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams and fellow Golden Globe nominee Robin Wright. He is currently filming Michael Winterbottom’s The Face of an Angel with Kate Beckinsale.
And he has a very personal travel book out: “Ein Tag in Barcelona” (“A Day in Barcelona”), in which he takes the reader on a unique tour of his sometime hometown.
With all that rushing to fame, Brühl will spend the holidays in Spain with his mother and girlfriend and “digest it all, because it’s been so intense.”