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Mr. Rush

Text
Armin Götz

Photos
David Breun

Audi TTS Roadster

Daniel Brühl is also very much in demand in Hollywood – most recently in his role as Niki Lauda in racing drama Rush. The actor goes for a spin through the German capital in the new Audi TTS Roadster.

Daniel Brühl
The son of a Spanish teacher and German TV director Hanno Brühl was born in Barcelona June 16, 1978. Besides German and Spanish, he also speaks fluent English, French and Catalan. He began doing audio plays and voice dubbing when he was a child and came to attention in 1994 with the TV movie Svens Geheimnis (Sven’s Secret). Brühl gained international recognition in 2003 with the leading role in Goodbye Lenin!, for which he received a number of awards. In 2008, he played German sharp shooter Fredrick Zoller in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-nominated Inglourious Basterds. He was nominated for a 2014 Golden Globe Award for his role as Niki Lauda in Rush.

Hand on the wheel – Lauda actor Brühl has a penchant for fast cars like the 228 kW (310 hp) Audi TTS.

Daniel, you were the German voice of Lightning McQueen in the animated movie Cars and slipped into racing gear as Niki Lauda for Rush. It’s a genre you seem to like. Can we expect to see you soon in any more fast-paced roles?

Rush was a great experience. The film turned out exactly as I imagined it would. It would be really difficult to top it. But basically, the whole car topic is always fun. And I’ll surely make more movies with car chases in them. However, I don’t expect any more racing driver roles.

Did you do any laps of a race track in a racing car yourself as part of your preparation for the role?

My film partner Chris Hemsworth (James Hunt) and I trained with Formula 3 cars. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to drive the original Formula 1 race cars that we had on set. Only the stunt drivers were allowed to do that. The cars’ owners were really worried – but more about their cars than about Chris and I (laughs).

Which tracks did you drive on?

I had my first experience in a Formula 3 car in Barcelona a long time before we started filming. I drove later with Chris in England. My personal coach was Niki Falkner. His father was a huge Lauda fan and named one of his sons for him. The training was great fun, because it’s really nothing like driving regular cars. Nevertheless, it was still miles away from the challenges of Formula 1. After this amazing experience, I understand now why anyone would want to be a racing driver.

Audi virtual cockpit – the fully digital dashboard is standard equipment in the new Audi TT. In the TTS Roadster, the central rev counter is the dominant feature.

You met a couple of times with Niki Lauda. What kind of relationship did you have with him?

Niki is a great guy, with this special Austrian humor. He said to me right away: take whatever time you need. We still text each other regularly. After filming, he asked me if I would like to fly with him in his private Learjet to the Formula 1 race in Brazil. I didn’t have to think long about that. I sat next to Niki in the cockpit – it was a great experience to fly across the Atlantic in such a small plane with the former Formula 1 champion at the controls.

I had my first experience in a Formula 3 car in Barcelona
a long time before we started filming. It was still
miles away from the challenges of Formula 1, but I understand
now why anyone would want to be a racing driver.

A bit of Spain in Kreuzberg – Daniel Brühl at the Raval, a tapas bar that he runs with a friend.

You have been running the Raval tapas bar in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin for the last four years. Did you bring a bit of Barcelona to Berlin with you?

That was exactly why my friend and I wanted to open a bar in Berlin. We wanted to bring the tapas culture that we have known since we were children to Berlin and bring Berliners a bit closer to Spain. There were already a few tapas bars in the capital, but we wanted to offer the complete bandwidth on our menu.

Where do you find the inspiration for your creations?

We have standard tapas in Raval that are available all year round and a weekly menu that is always changing. We therefore look around the Spanish provinces every couple of weeks for new creations.

Do you also cook yourself?

Rarely – I can make a few things, but because I’m rarely at home, I seldom have the time to cook for ten people. So we usually meet in restaurants. But I’ve decided to take up a course with a professional.

For more than a year now, you’ve been receiving an increasing number of offers from Hollywood. Was Rush the turbo for your career?

You really can’t plan something like that. There have been individual films that have brought me further step-by-step. It was working with Quentin Tarantino that led to me being cast for Rush. The director of Rush, Ron Howard, saw me in Inglourious Basterds and invited me to audition for the role as Niki Lauda. Rush then had a domino effect on my career. And when the opportunities arise, you have to take them.

You have played quite a wide variety of characters – race driver, boss of a star-rated restaurant in London and a journalist in Colonia, a film you’re shooting right now in Argentina. What do you like most?

I enjoy all sorts of things; it depends on the script and the roles. There are figures like Niki Lauda, with whom you make a connection, even though you think at first that the character is too far away from your own. But when you read through a script, it just clicks at some point and you suddenly know that you can play the role. I enjoy jumping between the different genres. Ideally, a nice comedy comes after a drama, then a science-fiction movie after that. I’ve never made a sci-fi, but I would totally love to. I’m also really into certain types of horror movie.

Is there a character that’s right at the top of your wish list?

There are lots of great novel series. I was talking recently to my friend about the Magellan biography by Stefan Zweig, a story about the first people to sail around the world. Making a movie about the challenges on the high seas in the 16th century – why not?

You are half German and half Spanish. What are the differences between the two nationalities?

I’m half Catalan to be precise. The Catalans are known as the Germans of Spain, because they’re more similar to them than to their own countrymen from other provinces. But overall, the Spanish are a bit more spirited than the Germans. That has something to do with the weather, but also with the culture. I mostly notice more light-heartedness and joie de vivre among the Spanish. I’m somewhere between the two. I feel neither particularly German nor particularly Spanish.

You film in a number of different languages – German, Spanish, English and French. What language do you prefer when filming?

I’m most at ease in my two native languages of German and Spanish. When it comes to improvisation in particular, I’m not as free in English and French and always happy when I have enough time to prepare for the dialogue. The good thing is, though, that every language has its own characteristics and nuances and is better for expressing certain things. It also impacts the way you play it. Spanish is an impulsive, faster language, which also leads to different facial expressions and gestures. In Spanish, we move our hands a lot when we talk. My friends tell me that it’s funny when I speak Spanish, because I sound more masculine. The language seems to change the tone of my voice.

Did you ever have an alternative to acting as a career?

Not really. During my childhood and youth it was just a hobby, although one that took up a lot of my time. By the time I was 15 or 16, I definitely knew I wanted to be an actor and started pursuing it more seriously. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional soccer player just like most other little boys, then, at the age of 13, I wanted to be a journalist, without actually knowing what that meant – it was more because I found the word so exciting.

You have now also been cast in a role in Captain America 3, a real US blockbuster that will be filmed in 2015. Who are you playing?

I can’t say anything about that yet, or I’ll be thrown into “Marvel jail” (laughs). But I’m very happy to be a part of it. It’s another career step and is going to be an absolute mega-spectacular.

You have already filmed a comedy this year. What’s that about?

It’s a comedy with Bradley Cooper directed by John Wells that’s all about the restaurant scene. I got totally into it from the moment I first read the script.

That’s probably because you run a restaurant yourself …

That’s right. I also play a figure similar to Atilano, the manager of our tapas bar. In the movie, I have inherited the star-rated restaurant from my father, but it’s not going so well. This world of highend chefs fascinated me, because it involves so much pressure and discipline, but also a whole lot of hard work that, as a guest, you don’t really appreciate. That’s the great thing about my job, because I mix with all these people from different worlds and learn a lot while I’m filming. Marcus Wareing, the two-star chef from London that advised us during filming, invited us to his restaurant. We were allowed into the kitchen to take a look behind the scenes and to see how everything runs in the restaurant. It was really interesting. And this cast with Bradley Cooper (Hangover), Uma Thurman, Oscar-winner Emma Thompson, Sienna Miller and Omar Sy (The Intouchables) is extremely high-caliber.

You recently received your own star on the Boulevard of Stars on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

I was absolutely over the moon about that. I’m in what you might call the very best company with all the film legends like Marlene Dietrich, Billy Wilder and Christoph Waltz. It gives me a great feeling every time I drive past.

What do you have planned next?

On Monday, I’m meeting the king of Spain at the embassy in Berlin, then I’m flying to Buenos Aires for two weeks of shooting on Colonia and after that it’s back to Stuttgart for Christmas Eve and then on to Barcelona. I’m going to force one of my friends to roast a goose for Christmas. I don’t trust myself to do that – it’ll be too dry.

Technical Data

Audi TTS Roadster 2.0 TFSI quattro with S tronic
Displacement 1,984 cm³
Power 228 kW (310 hp)
Torque 380 Nm / 1,800 – 5,700 rpm
Vmax 250 km/h*
* electronically limited
0 –100 km/h 4.9 s
Consumption 6.9 l /100 km
CO2 emissions 159 g/km

View from above –
the new Audi TTS Roadster, 4.19 meters long, has a compact and highly focused stance – a true sports car.