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Daniel Bruhl plays real people in 'Rush' and 'The Fifth Estate'

"Rush" and "The Fifth Estate" co-star Daniel Bruhl talks about playing real people, playing sympathetic villains and the ongoing story of WikiLeaks.

Daniel Bruhl has big roles in both "Rush" and "The Fifth Estate." Credit: Getty Images Daniel Bruhl has big roles in both "Rush" and "The Fifth Estate."
Credit: Getty Images

Daniel Bruhl is having a busy year. He quite handily steals two major premieres from high-profile co-stars in "The Fifth Estate" and "Rush." Both films appear to be about someone else — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and late F1 driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) — but are really about Bruhl's character: Assange fan-turned-partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg and disfigured racing legend Niki Lauda.

The two films have a lot in common:
"There are some parallels between the films, because I'm playing two real characters," Bruhl explains. "It's also interesting, the structure of the movies, because you don't have a hero and a villain at the end, but you have empathy for both of them. It's quite interesting to see that. And then of course, my roots help me because both of these characters are quite focused and German in a way: correct and reasonable and so on."

One thing led to the other:
"It's partly luck," he says. "I have to say that Ron [Howard] helped me a lot and supported me after making 'Rush' and helped me get into the next movie. Because of, I don't know, good work I suppose in 'Rush' I was given the chance."

He's part of a bigger trend:
"In general, this change started a couple of years ago that we Germans or European actors get the real chance to play these great parts in American movies," Bruhl says. "This is an interesting change, and I hope it's going to go on. It's a very positive trend, I think."

Playing real, living people can be an odd experience:
"It was very strange to see 'Rush' in London the other day with [Lauda]," he says. "I mean, I watched him watching the movie. I got goosebumps sometimes because everything around the accident is so intense. It was strange to see that with Niki in the same theater."

Despite doing a film on it already, he thinks the story of WikiLeaks is just beginning:
"It's a subject, I think, that will be important for a long time, and we're just at the beginning of it," he says. "All of us, we citizens, have learn a lot of things — how we deal with gathering information — but also governments have to learn how to deal with it, and corporations. I think we're drowning right now in information. This is a problem for everyone. It is exaggerated and it's wrong. I don't know how to channel that or how to filter that, but that has to happen, because otherwise we will have huge conflicts in the future."

 
 
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