Ford v Ferrari is one of the hottest Oscar-nominated films and that’s thanks to its excellent story that has made people who can barely stand cars love its message. It also helps Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in the picture. To celebrate the film let’s take a look at some of the most surprising things you may not know about the production.
Christian Bale is the best actor trained in racing at Bondurant High-Performance Driving School
We all know Bale is one of the most famous actors when it comes to preparation. He lost over 111 pounds for the role of The Machinist which is certainly dangerous, but shows his dedication. To prepare for the role as Ken Miles in Ford v Ferrari, Bale didn’t play around taking racecar driving lessons at the Bondurant High Performance Driving School. Founded in 1968, it’s no surprise the founder had been a friend of Ken Miles and Bale happened to hear stories firsthand about the character he’d play. He also proved he was up there as one of the best drivers.
According to Car and Driver, the stunt coordinator Robert Nagle on the film took Bale to Bondurant and when he expected the pressure to get to him, “he never bobbled and never went off. I have to say that he’s hands down the best actor I’ve ever trained,” Nagle said.
Overseas the film is known as Le Mans ’66.
It may come as a surprise to American audiences, but companies like Ford and Ferrari aren’t necessarily a selling point to international audiences. Ford in particular, but when you figure in the incredible interest in race car driving it’s a no brainer 20th Century Fox renamed the film Le Mans 66 for international audiences. The big third act of Ford v Ferrari is wrapped around the 24-hour race of Le Mans which has been going on since 1923. Factoring in the number of records broken in the race depicted in the film and it’s an easy choice to redub it.
Bale almost took another racing role…for a film that’s now in development hell
Funny enough, Christian Bale was originally set to play a different race car driver, though the driver’s name is in the title of Ford v Ferrari. It was none other than Enzo Ferrari in Michael Mann’s Enzo Ferrari, but Bale dropped out since he was coming off Vice and had gained a lot of weight to play Dick Cheney and couldn’t lose the weight in time. It’s worth noting Enzo Ferrari is played by Remo Girone in Ford v Ferrari although he’s much older in this film and it might be a stretch to have seen Bale play the character. That and the role is much smaller in Ford v Ferrari. It appears Michael Mann’s film is back on track, with Hugh Jackman playing Ferrari under Cecchi Gori Pictures, but it’s likely to come out much later than its original release date since it was announced in 2017.
Ford v Ferrari was originally titled ‘Go Like Hell’
While Ford v. Ferrari has name brand recognition the original title was a little more creative thanks to the book it was based on. The book, Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A.J. Baime details much of what occurs in the film, certainly has a livelier title though it’s way too long for movie posters. In all seriousness, the title Go to Hell was being shopped to Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise for the role. Now that’d be a different film.
Ferrari pulled the same last lap winning stunt at Daytona the following year
This is a bit of a spoiler, but did you know Ford won Le Mans 66 and did it in historic fashion with the top three spots all at the same time? It turns out Ford requested the drivers to slow down so that they could cross the finish line and prove to the world Ford is the best. Not to be outdone, Ferrari responded at the very next race in which both Ford and Ferrari appeared at the 24 hour Daytona race in 1967. It just so happened they had the top three spots at Daytona and what did they do? They had all three racecars cross the finish line together. Talk about a plot for a sequel!
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