May 28, 2024

Although Adam Driver portrays legendary sports-car magnate Enzo Ferrari in Michael Mann‘s biographical drama, the actor didn’t get to drive one of the 1950s-era replicas for “Ferrari.” Instead, he drove an “open-wheel single seater” that was modified to connect a camera to it.

Asked how it was getting behind the wheel of that particular vintage sports car, Driver simply replied, “Terrifying.”

“It teleports you back to the time and you realize if you turn left or right the wrong way, then you’re dead,” Driver told Variety at the “Ferrari” North American premiere at the New York Film Festival Friday night. “There’s at least seatbelts in the newer cars.”

Driver described the single seater as a “moving coffin” at a New York Film Festival press conference earlier on Friday.

The driving occurred at “an abandoned airstrip in Modena, Italy,” he recalled. “And you can really feel how dangerous they are obviously, versus a contemporary Ferrari. The goal was to get thrown from the car because that was considered more safe than to be locked in this moving coffin.”

Mann then clarified Driver’s description, saying, “The idea was you’d rather be thrown from the car than dragged by the car, so that’s why they didn’t wear seatbelts.”

To prepare the team for the racing sequences in “Ferrari,” Mann had several actors, including Driver, test drive contemporary Ferraris in pre-production.

“I wanted everybody to have an experience of driving these cars on a racetrack,” Mann told the audience at the morning press conference, calling it “racecar driving 101.”

“Ferrari” follows the life of automotive mogul Enzo in 1957 as his company prepares to enter the Mille Miglia, a 1000-mile, open-road motorsport race. Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Gabriel Leone and Sarah Gadon attended the NYFF premiere alongside “Ferrari” director Mann and co-star Driver.

Mann estimates there were at least 14 or 15 cars involved in the 1957 Mille Miglia race sequence.

“And then the main Ferraris and Maseratis, which we recreated exactly to scale, we were able to 3D scan real [50s-era models], which are insanely valuable,” Mann continued. “Our cars could go 140-150 miles an hour, and do so safely.”

Mann, who has known Enzo’s son Piero Ferrari for about 25 years, recalled some of the conversations he had with the Ferrari vice chairman in preparation for the biopic.

“There were all kinds of conversations. What was his mother like? Did his mother cook?” Mann told Variety. “That house in the countryside was the only place in which Enzo was in repose, in which he relaxed and became informal. He was never casual or informal anywhere else. His father never made coffee, he never shaved himself his entire life — he always went to the barber shop, and the barber shop we shoot is run by the son of Enzo’s barber. Nothing’s changed.”

“Ferrari” premieres in theaters Dec. 25.

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