September 10, 2019 / 2:04 AM / 5 days ago

'Ford v Ferrari' actors say race car drivers a special breed

TORONTO (Reuters) - Actors Christian Bale and Matt Damon say they have a newfound respect for racecar drivers after making “Ford v Ferrari”, based on the true story of the battle between the car makers at the 1966 Le Mans.

Actors Matt Damon and Christian Bale pose as they arrive at the international premiere of "Ford V Ferrari" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The movie, shown at the Toronto Film Festival on Monday, chronicles Ford Motor Co’s bid to build a race car to beat Ferrari at Le Mans, a race it dominated for years.

Furious at being rebuffed in his attempts to buy Ferrari - and its racecar design - from creator Enzo Ferrari, Henry Ford II decides to build his own car and hires American engineer Carroll Shelby (Damon).

The team signs British racer Ken Miles (Bale) to drive the Ford GT40, and in just 90 days the two companies are facing off in Le Mans, the oldest and most challenging endurance auto race.

“The brakes were the weakest part of the car back then,” Damon told Reuters Television on the red carpet.

“So what these guys were doing is nuts, going 230 miles an hour and not knowing whether or not you could stop the car. It’s a kind of a special breed of person to do that,” he added.

Bale said his enthusiasm behind the wheel “completely outweighed my skill.”

“(I) got to go and be on the track with some of the best racers in the world,” he said. “But (I) would never dare to assume that I could compete with these absolute gods of racing that we had on set.”

The movie goes beyond the drive for speed to look at the conflicting personalities of Miles and Shelby, as well as the clashes brought on by corporate interference in the project.

“In many ways I think we tried to make a movie that speaks to people who might not even be into racing,” said director James Mangold.

“Ford v Ferrari” will be released in U.S. movie theaters on Nov. 15.

Reporting by Robert Mezan; Writing by Moira Warburton; editing by Darren Schuettler

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