Don’t Know Daniel Bruhl? You Will: Trailers for Rush and The Fifth Estate

Rush, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl

poster courtesy Touchstone via IMP Awards

Daniel César Martín Brühl González Domingo is a thirty-five year old Spanish-born German actor probably best known to English-speaking audiences for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Daniel Brühl played Fredrick Zoller, the face of Joseph Goebbels’ planned cinematic propaganda campaign, a sort of Nazi Audie Murphy.

Of course, before QT “discovered” him, Brühl had payed his dues in a lot of German television and smaller film roles, until his break-out in 2003’s festival favorite Good Bye Lenin. The first thing I saw him in, which sent me to imdb to look him up, was a little-seen film from 2004, Ladies in Lavender with Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith (and directed by Tywin Lannister himself, Charles Dance). Brühl plays Andrea, a violin prodigy who survives a shipwreck and washes up on the beach near the Cornish home of sisters played by Dench and Smith. The film is about his effect on the sisters, their small village and a beautiful German woman played by Natasha McElhone.  It’s a well-crafted, elegant little gem with wonderful performances from the principals and the supporting cast made up of the usual brilliant British character actors like David Warner, Miriam Margolyes, Freddie Jones, Clive Russell, and Toby Jones.

Brühl turned up in The Bourne Ultimatum as the brother of the now deceased Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) and as Julie Delpy’s love interest in her blood-soaked version of the tale of Elizabeth Bathory, The Countess. He also appeared in her 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York.  His days on the fringes, however, are about to come to an end.

Daniel Brühl is about to be seen in two very high profile films, Ron Howard’s Rush, opposite Chris Hemsworth and Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The latter film has just been chosen to open this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Rush is the story of the intense rivalry between Formula 1 drivers, Austrian Niki Lauda (Bruhl) and British James Hunt (Hemsworth). The film is actually Lauda’s story, focusing on his horrific crash in 1976 and how his rivalry with Hunt fueled his triumphant comeback.

“Set against the sexy, glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s, the film is based on the true story of a great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt, and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda. The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die.”

With a screenplay by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scotland) Rush is set to be something of a comeback for director Howard. It’s his first feature since 2011’s The Dilemma. ( I’d love to know what he was thinking with that one. A rare misstep to be sure, but it was practically off a curb into oncoming traffic).

Take a look at the latest trailer (#3) for Rush below:

Now take a look at the 1st trailer.

It’s not difficult to figure out that they’re using the face of Thor to sell this movie. Hemsworth is, right now, the bigger name, at least with American audiences,  so naturally he has a bigger presence in the latest domestic trailer. The first one, however, would seem to be a more balanced overview of what the movie is about.

Either way, despite the fact that this is based on true story, the trailers I’ve seen don’t leave me with the feeling that I’ve seen the whole thing. I want to see how Howard has handled both the scenes on the speedway (the excitement of which is NOT easily captured on film) as well as the well-documented private lives of the two racers. (Although I’d venture to guess that most of the buyers of tickets to Rush probably had never heard of Lauda and Hunt prior to the first trailers.)

Rush also stars Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer, Christian Mackay, Alexandra Maria Lara and Jamie Sives (as well as a host of the European versions of “that guy” whom you may recognize even if you don’t know their names). It opens in the UK on 13th September and September 27 in the US.

Daniel Brühl, Benedict Cumberbatch, The Fifth Estate

photo courtesy Dreamworks via imdb

Speaking of true stories, The Fifth Estate covers a period of much more recent history. In fact, one could say that it’s a story without an ending since the fate of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has yet to be sealed. (As of this writing he’s still in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he’s been given political asylum since June of 2012.)

In The Fifth Estate, Assange is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. The film is told through the eyes of Daniel Brühl’s character, Assange’s friend and colleague, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (aka Daniel Schmitt), a German technology activist named by Foreign Policy magazine in 2011 to its list of top global thinkers. Bit of trivia: Brühl replaced James McAvoy, who had to drop out because of his commitment to “Macbeth” in London. Joel Kinnaman was reportedly interested in the role (just as Jeremy Renner was interested in that of Assange) but Brühl won out.

from Dreamworks:
“…{The Fifth Estate} follows the heady, early days of WikiLeaks to its abrupt end after a series of controversial and history changing info leaks. The website’s overnight success brought instant fame to its principal architects, but as their power expanded across the globe, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Bruhl) grew increasingly disillusioned with Assange’s (Cumberbatch) questionable tactics and ethics. The rift between the two friends became irreparable and their ideological differences tore them apart, but not before they revolutionized, for better and worse, the flow of information to news media and the world at large.”

The first trailer was released last week. Take a look:

If the action is the real star of Rush, in The Fifth Estate, Brühl holds his own going toe to toe with Cumberbatch, one of the best actors working today. (He could probably play a convincing Muppet, he’s so good.) He also shares the screen with an outstanding international cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, Alicia Vikander, Anthony Mackie, Carice van Houten, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Dan Stevens and Moritz Bleibtreu.

With a big neon “Oscar Bait” sign plastered over it, The Fifth Estate is based on the books “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website” by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy” by Luke Harding. The screenplay is by first time feature writer Josh Singer, best known for tv’s “Fringe”, “Lie to Me”, “Law & Order: SVU” and “The West Wing”.

After its World Premiere at TIFF (the Venice lineup has yet to be announced, but it could well close the Festival on September 7), the film will be released in the US on October 18, but not until 1st January in the UK.

If those two films aren’t enough to raise Brühl’s profile, there’s always A Most Wanted Man, based on a John Le Carré novel (who in turn based the book on a true story) and directed by Anton Corbijn (The American, Control).

“When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, tortured half-to-death immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community, laying claim to his father’s ill gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man’s true identity – oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist?”

The cast of that one includes Rachel McAdams (in role coveted by Carey Mulligan, Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain -!-), Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Willem Dafoe.  No trailer yet (an Italian site has one but it was taken down), but expect one soon. In the meantime, here’s Le Carré discussing the source novel back in 2008:

A Most Wanted Man will be released in the UK on 22nd November. No US date yet.

You don’t know Daniel Brühl? You will.