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Toronto: ‘Rush’ of Awards Adrenaline

There are stars and then there are stars. The post-premiere party for Ron Howard’s “Rush” at the Thompson Hotel featured star Chris Hemsworth and the other impossibly good-looking lead actors, all the filmmakers, and heavyweights from the studios and Hollywood. But the unquestionable center of attention was Niki Lauda.

The Formula One driver, whose conflict with fellow racer James Hunt is the focus of the film, told Variety that he had piloted himself from Europe, landing in Toronto at 8 p.m. for the 9:30 premiere. And he would be flying his plane back home the following day.

He laughed that all the showbiz hoopla was “a little strange,” but he loved the film. Pointing to Daniel Bruhl, who plays him on screen, Lauda said “He is good. Good!”

The accuracy of Bruhl’s characterization is clear to anybody who talks with Lauda: The look, the accent, the rhythms are all there.

Execs from Universal, Working Title, Cross Creek Media, Exclusive Media, Revolution and Imagine were beaming and accepting congrats. And for kudos watchers, the film moved into the fast lane with awards talk.

Kudos advantages: Superior work in all categories. including production, direction, writing, performances and all below-the-line work.

Kudos challenges: In a season full of films with weighty themes, “Rush” will have to overcome the misconception that it’s a film about racing, or that it’s “only” a commercial film about a sports rivalry.

Universal had also arranged for the family of the late James Hunt — portrayed by Hemsworth in the Peter Morgan-scripted film — to attend. Lauda spoke of the profound respect he carried for Hunt, despite their deep rivalry. “I was happy that it was him,” he added.

Guy East, one of the film’s exec producers, said Lauda had been a consistent presence on the set. “He was very helpful in many ways, especially for Daniel,” he added.

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