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On cars:

“Actually, I grew up surrounded by motorbikes. My dad raced them. I really only got an appreciation for the 1970s as a motor racing era and the personalities who dominated it while working on Rush.”

On James Hunt:

“I’d love to have been able talk to him, but his passing gives me a little bit more freedom, I suppose. When you’re playing a character you’ve got to get as much inspiration and information together as you can, but it’s your version of it. I’m not mimicking him. You’ve got to find a way to relate to it, with a nod to the period and who this guy really was.

The character starts to take on a life of its own. Whatever energy is required in the scene, you’ve got to embody it. But I don’t carry it about with me for four months. I’m not Marlon Brando, y’know? But when it’s James being the life and soul of the party, or being dark, you have to find it. You’ve got to show the truth of it.”

On landing the role and the physical challenges it entailed:

“I sent an audition tape to Ron [Howard] and the producers. I wanted to be proactive about it. First thing was, I had to get rid of the Thor weight. I tell you, it was harder to lose it than to put it on. At least on the way up you’re being fed, so you’re in a good mood. I was under-fed and had to over-train. My wife was like, ‘please, just eat something!’ It changes your personality in some weird ways. I remember going somewhere and thinking, ‘Who am I? I’ve got nothing to say.’ Absolutely nothing was firing… I was talking to Matt Damon about it a while ago. He said it was like a crazy obsession. Insanity. He went away and did it, but I had to shoot a film while doing it. I got rid of 15kg in the end. Going any further wasn’t worth what I was losing in my personal life!”

On motor racing in the ’60s and ’70s:

“Death was the dark cloud looming towards you that you’d occasionally acknowledge but otherwise ignore. ‘I won’t let them in’. Francois Cevert [Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell team-mate, who was killed at Watkins Glen in 1973] used to refer to them as being knights, that they had that sort of nobility. And that’s in the film: there is so much more to it than just racing.’

For more on Rush, click here

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