How 'Rush' Stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl Researched Their Real-Life Counterparts

Getty Images
Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl at Wednesday's screening

At a New York screening of the film, Bruhl reveals how Niki Lauda reacted to his sensitive questions, while Hemsworth explains how he learned about the late James Hunt.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl face off as real-life Formula 1 racing rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the exhilarating drama Rush, which hits theaters in New York and L.A. on Friday.

The two compete throughout the movie, but before filming even began, Bruhl had an advantage Hemsworth did not when it came to researching his character -- Bruhl could talk to the real Lauda, while Hemsworth was forced to rely on other sources to learn about Hunt, who died of a heart attack at age 45.

PHOTOS: 'Rush': Exclusive Photos of Ron Howard, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl

Bruhl said Lauda's no-nonsense attitude, illustrated on screen, initially gave the actor a bit of pause.

"At first, I was a bit nervous because he was very blunt on the phone, and I was hoping that he would like me because that was crucial for me. If you have to play a real character, you just hope to have a good relationship with him, especially if you have so many questions," Bruhl told The Hollywood Reporter at the Cinema Society-, Ferrari- and Piaget-hosted screening of the film in New York on Wednesday night.

But Lauda was ultimately very open about the harrowing experiences he went through that are depicted in the film.

"I was very happy that he was open and willing to answer all the sensitive questions, you know, because I was talking to him about death and his near-death experience and fear and overcoming fear, so I was very thankful that he was so open," Bruhl added.

PHOTOS: Exclusive Portraits of Chris Hemsworth

For Hemsworth, he relied on archival footage of Hunt, including interview outtakes, to understand the personality of the playboy racer.

"One of the most helpful things was the BBC had a whole lot of B-roll footage of interviews of James and all the outtakes where he was kind of screwing around and making jokes and truly himself, and it was the most insightful stuff because you got to see that this guy had an absolute fascination with the world and people, and was involved in everything and ownership of his environment and was very honest," Hemsworth told THR. "There was something very refreshing about that."