Celebrities from film, TV and music are common sights on a Formula 1 grid, but that’s usually during the pre-race grid walk where they mingle with their motorsport counterparts and conduct awkward interviews. Very rarely are they seen in an actual car about to join the race.
This weekend, actor Brad Pitt will at least pretend to do so, as he will be at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone filming an untitled Formula 1 movie for Apple Original Films.
The unnamed movie was announced last summer and will star Pitt along with Damson Idris. It will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who helmed Top Gun: Maverick. Plot details are thin at this stage, but both Pitt and Idris play drivers racing for the fictional “APXGP” team, presumably called “Apex,” and likely in a mentor-turned-rivalry relationship given the age disparity of the two leads.
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Though the fictional 11th team has its own garage in place, it won’t actually interfere with the race proper, though filming will take place during this weekend’s event. The film will also field the team’s hero car during non-race periods. Ahead of the race, F1’s official website gave us a first look at the car being used in the movie. The black and gold car looks fairly in line with the design of the current lineup but is in actuality a Formula 2 chassis designed with some help from Mercedes to look like the real deal.
Both Pitt and Idris have trained extensively to actually drive the car, which is very much in line with director Kosinski’s approach to practical effects as seen in Maverick. It helps that seven-time F1 champion and current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is one of the producers on the show. Hamilton has been on hand to give pointers to the actors during track day sessions, and it also explains the close ties the production has with Mercedes-AMG, both in real life and in the movie’s fiction. Along with the design help, the car’s black and gold livery is branded with the logos of real life sponsors, including AMG, indicating that it’s the team’s engine supplier.
The movie follows a great tradition of motorsport films like Ron Howard’s 2013 movie Rush, depicting F1 racing in the 1970s; 1966’s Grand Prix, directed by John Frankenheimer; and Le Mans, a 1971 movie by Lee H. Katzin about the famous endurance race starring Steve McQueen. It’s also striking at the time where Formula 1’s popularity has seen a huge spike, much of which is due to the popular Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive, which is on its fifth season this year and features a dramatized retelling of the previous F1 season.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Apple Original is any good, but given the director’s reliance on real driving, the involvement with at least one F1 team and the watchful eye of a world champion, we’re thinking it’s okay to get our hopes up for this one.
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