Rush producer Andrew Eaton: 'I would love to work with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie again'

The film producer talks to Katherine Landergan about life behind the camera

You’ve worked on numerous films with director Michael Winterbottom. What’s that relationship like?

It’s been the best. I couldn't imagine doing what I’m doing without him. We’ve kind of grew up together, we were friends since our early 20s. You build a lot of trust, and make your mistakes together and you make your successes together. We’ve been really lucky.

The biggest life changing moment of our career was making the film “In This World” because it was just after 9/11 which involved going to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. We were trying to make a film that would say something about the state of the world at that time and I think we pulled that off.

You worked on Rush with director Ron Howard: what is he like as a director?

Ron grew up in Hollywood and is very much of that world. But it is unusual to meet someone from Hollywood who is so not cynical, enthusiastic, and energetic.

Are there any particular actors you’d like to work with in the future?

I saw two actors that I know in Los Angeles at the Globes: Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, and I think they’re both amazing and would be great to work with.

Speed racer: Chris Hemsworth stars in Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’

I did a film, A Mighty Heart with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt a few years ago. I would love to work with Angie again. Brad Pitt was actually a producer on that film with me and that would be great to work with him as an actor. He was really generous and it was very good to have someone like that on your team who is so well established and so well respected.

I had such good fun working with Angie. She is one of the actresses who is the most enjoyable. She takes the job seriously but at the same time is quite happy to have a bit of fun.

In one scene in Rush, Daniel Bruhl’s character races a car through the countryside – how are you when it comes to the speed limit?                                                                                                    

I’m a big motorbike fan. But I don’t tend to drive cars too fast, I’m pretty cautious, but maybe ten years ago it would have been a different story.

What was the first car you owned?

The first car that I owned was a yellow Mini Clubman and it was a very unsexy car but I put in these really expensive speakers so I could play music very loud. It was terrible. Yellow wasn’t my choice; it was the only one I could afford.

Rush is up for a lot of awards – are these prizes important to you as a producer? Or do they simply add to the film’s success? 

It’s more helpful in every regard obviously it helps promotes the film. It was obvious at the Golden Globes - when you have a film nominated everyone is much nicer to you and everyone is aware of your work.

Sometimes being in films can be quite a lonely experience, especially as a producer. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar: when you get a pat on the back it’s great - it helps the ego and your self-confidence. It’s also great for the next project you’re pitching because people know who you are even more so.   

Did you get to rub elbows with any celebrities at the Globes? 

I was sitting at the table next to U2 and they were chuffed to win the Globe, they were so pleased. People say I look a bit like the Edge, so I went up to him and he kind of agreed that we look quite alike - so we took a photo together.

Rush is a British-German production, and in a piece for The Guardian you wrote about such co-productions that “this used to be the last resort of a struggling project, but now it’s normal.” Why do you think films are becoming increasingly made between countries?

It’s mostly economically driven - it has a big economic benefit. And not to mention what the Lord of the Rings has done for New Zealand’s tourism. It focuses attention on your culture, and that’s massively beneficial.

Like any film about a real-life story, Rush was said to have slightly tweaked things: for example, over-dramatizing the feud between Hunt and Lauda. In your opinion, how closely should a film follow the story that it is based on?

It’s always subjective I think if you're making a film about a true story you've got license to play around with things that happened behind closed doors that nobody knows for sure because you’re speculating. But you can’t end up radically changing facts and adding characters. I think the rivalry on the track was genuine, I think privately maybe they were slightly better friends then we had made out. But we didn’t do anything like changing the outcome of races.

Andrew Eaton, born in Derry, Northern Ireland,  has been a film and television producer for more than 20 years. Rush is out now on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital.