Ford Vs Ferrari, the Oscar nominated movie is a Sports Drama film directed by James Mangold. The plot follows around the American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles’ battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car for Ford in order to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.The film stars renowned actors Matt Damon and Christian Bale as Carol Shelby and Ken Miles. In this interview, James Mangold discusses about his idea and thoughts while making the movie, his experience of working with Matt & Christian and more. Star Movies will be premiering the film for first time on television on 1st November 2020 at 12 pm and 9 pm
What drew you to the script?
For me, what was always drawing me to the story of Shelby and Miles and the Shelby American team and Ford and Ferrari and the rivalry were the unique group of characters that gathered together, all of whom were so opposite. I mean, you had even among the corporate world of Ford, you had such different personalities as Henry Ford the second and Iacocca and the LBB in the world of in the world of racing and hot rodding. You know, Carol Shelby is kind of a salesman and a hustler and the character who was kind of compensating for the fact he could no longer race himself and Ken Miles was a completely different character, kind of a hothead, almost unable to somehow be flexible enough or polite enough to kind of survive in in more trying or stressful social situations and so and he had to that kind of all the other characters that came along with Shelby American, who were all kind of out of the Los Angeles and Southern California kind of hotrod tradition, you’d had kind of expert engineers, guys who had come out of the war and kind of gotten into cars and kind of surfy, hot rodder kind of characters. You had beatniks and just racer’s drag racers, all of whom were part of this world of cars in the mid 60s in the Southern California area.
How the characters influence the story?
What was also so interesting to me was the way each of the characters own challenges personally played into the way the movie resolved itself and Ken Miles case, a guy who unbendable and won’t compromise and always seeking perfection at the climax of the film has to actually bend and compromise and in Shelby’s case, a guy who’s talked himself into everything and is a natural salesman and a kind of almost, you’d say, a kind of professional persuader. He has to kind of speak honestly to Ken Miles and deal with the ramifications of the race afterward in a more honest way that he can’t kind of talk or dance his way through.
What are the main themes of the film?
I think it’s a movie about friendship. I think it’s a movie about brotherhood. I think it’s a movie about the things we accomplish in connection and in collaboration with others and that our own selves, we all can become enlarged and extended and our abilities heightened by those around us. And that the unique cast of characters in this film all could never have accomplished what they had accomplished without each of the other players. And that and their egos may want to think each of them did it on their own. But what is so beautiful is that there is no one who didn’t play a part, whether it’s Ford and its engineering team, whether it’s Shelby and his kind of hired on team, whether it’s drivers like Ken Miles who were instrumental in actually figuring out the car and making it work on the road. But so the short answer is, I think it’s a film about friendship, about brotherhood, and about the people we lose that change us.
Tell us about Ken Miles
Shelby saw Ken as a driver, they might even be better than him. That, you know, one thing we all have things were really good at and what comes with our skills is also an eye for other people who have the same skills. And I think Shell be recognized and can when he saw him on the track and he saw him examining a car or checking it out, that this was someone who rivaled or exceeded his own instincts behind the wheel.
How difficult was it to get that perfect lap?
There is such a thing as reaching perfection and that you are that this the road is finite, the car is finite, these are ephemeral things. So there must be them the perfect way to drive them, meaning if these things are real and hard and math and physics relate to them, then I’m the only fallible element. I’m the only unpredictable element in relation to all these knowns the road, the weather, the air, the car, its capabilities, its brakes. And so Ken was always after trying to be to almost take himself out of it, to be so perfect that he matched the kind of dependability and that he matched the perfection of the vehicle itself.
Tell us about the GT40
Ultimately, what was so intense about the GT40 was the amount of muscle in it. I mean, the challenge of the car was never can it go fast enough? In a way they put as much engine. I mean, we depict a lot of it. They put as much engine as they could possibly pack into that size car, more engine than any sense anyone else had. What I mean by engine is power and speed. And the challenge of the vehicle was how to stop it, how to slow it down.
Your views on GT40 versus the Ferrari
A straight drag race, the GT40 would have beat the Ferrari hands down any time, but their challenges were different. The Ferrari was a beautifully handling car, which could accelerate and decelerate with perfection, although it just didn’t have the juice, it didn’t have the power of the GT40. The GT40 was a kind of in the American tradition, the kind of muscle car but had but didn’t have the finesse. And that was why it took them a few years.
How did you created authenticity in the film?
A lot of the research we did was to try and recreate not only the charting the way the cars changed over the years, both in body and engine and driving styles changed and obviously body paint and all that. But also how they drove them and how they related to them, all of that.
How was it to recreate the Le Mans race course?
What is a real challenge and hard to convey is that every time someone makes a full lap in our movie, they are passing through five or six different locations. There are shots from Arkadelphia, California, one location in Atlanta, another location in Atlanta, a third location far from Atlanta, then back to the third location from here, and then another location in the Georgia in rural Georgia, and then back to Oakland, California.
Tell us about the race drivers in the film
Both Matt and Christian are incredible drivers, so I had one huge advantage, both of them have driven in films before, been trained to drive Christians, a motocross driver for years, has raced motorcycles, has kind of quit doing it out of fear of getting injured, but was his obsession for years. And so both of them are natural drivers and look great behind the wheel. But most of the other drivers in the film, everyone playing drivers are drivers. They are people who drive race cars and actors as a hobby in the car, and many of them a hobby that only consists of their one appearance in a movie, our movie, their drivers. And because most of what I felt like they were going to have to do wouldn’t be expert line readings, but in fact look like the real thing behind the wheel. And it also was obviously a kind of cost savings that we could have people doing both duty that I wouldn’t have to double every time someone got out of a car. I didn’t have to replace them with an actor. A lot of our drivers were playing the drivers who were literally behind the wheel.
How did you created a hightened sense of tension and reality?
What was most important to us was in an age when everything feels possible because of computer graphics and visual effects, we wanted to make a movie where you felt the high of being on the road and not a kind of tentpole movie, digital simulation of it, but the reality of it. And that visual effects for me, my kind of evangelism on the movie was that I always wanted them to be supplemental about completing grandstands or sets we couldn’t afford to build. But the action on the road would be real and would feel real. And our driving team that was very much their kind of mission statement was to try and achieve everything they could as safely as possible as it happened.
How similar Christian Bale and Ken Miles are?
I thought there’s a lot of Ken in Christian, and I think one of the revelations of the film is we get to see so much of himself as a working class kid from England, as a guy who loves motor sports, as a kind of passionate perfectionist, as a family man. Another aspect of Christian that really connects with the movie is he’s a great father and a husband and loves his family. And it’s where he’d rather be than almost anywhere else. And all those aspects of his character, his personal character, fuse with Ken and I think give him a chance to give audiences a taste of a really honest piece of himself.