Posted by: Jerry Garrett | September 15, 2013

RUSH: Did James Hunt Really Punch Out a Journalist?

James Hunt punches out a journalist 2:16 into this trailer.

A controversial scene in the movie “Rush” (the film’s official website is here) depicts James Hunt punching out a journalist who had made an insulting comment to Niki Lauda about his appearance, after his head was horribly burned in a fiery accident.

Did this incident happen in real life? It did not happen, as depicted in the movie, but…

Hunt's punch...

Hunt’s punch…

“It could have happened,” said a friend of Hunt, who died 20 years ago and isn’t around to speak for himself. The friend made the comment at the recent Italian Grand Prix. “That was something James would have done.” Hunt’s son Tom concurs that it was possible, “That’s the way dad was.”

Lauda said he had no direct knowledge of the incident.

But here is what I know, as the motorsports editor of The Associated Press that year, when I covered the sport…

When Lauda came back from his accident, he was asked at a press conference at the Italian Grand Prix that year if he planned to have any plastic surgery to repair the burn scars. Lauda was angry at the question, and defiant, “No. No surgery. I don’t care how I look. How I look now is how I look.

“If people don’t like the way I look, they don’t have to look at me.”

Later, I know a British journalist asked in print, “I wonder if Mrs. Lauda has had any input into that decision.”

Whether this is journalist was later introduced to the blunt end of James Hunt’s anger, I do not know; but he did not remain on the motorsports beat for long thereafter. (No, I don’t know where he is now.)

Lauda, whose marriage did ultimately fail (he and Marlene divorced in 1991), said he has changed his mind about his appearance, since seeing the film.

“The horror!” Lauda told Jason Barlow of Top Gear. “I finally understood how the people at the time must have felt.”

But Lauda said his perspective back then was altered by having seen his injuries at their worst – exactly as depicted in the film – under a neon light, with his head swollen like a melon, and his eyes almost blind.

“Shit, I thought.” he said. “It should have never been allowed, for me to see myself at that time.”

So, later, when the swelling was gone, the burns weren’t so raw, and his eyelids and tear ducts starting to return to normal functioning, the situation seemed much better and more manageable – to him, anyway.

“At the time, I didn’t care about that,” he said. “The only thing I cared about was racing.”

Jerry Garrett

September 15, 2013


  1. One of the best movies I have seen in a long time!

  2. I did have the doubt wether James Hunt really went at the Journalist or not. Believe it was included in the movie only to show Liam Hemsworth as a hero for a change.

    • liam hemsworth? its chris hemsworth and hes a hero in most films have u seen thor/avengers?
      silly boy lol

      • So, I am guessing you haven’t ever confused between two things. Maybe because you were born yesterday? Give it time and someone exactly as redundant as you will come along and correct you.

      • Tarun, your reply to Shane is the greatest thing Ive read all day.

    • You made a dumb comment and you are criticizing someone else. what a fag

      • Haha. You are funny with your cognitive ability. Chris was shown to be an arse through out the movie. That media beating was his hero moment. That’s all there is to it. If you can’t comprehend that much, you musn’t be on wordpress. You must be on blogger.

    • Hemsworth is an arse and a ‘playboy’ throughout the movie but he has a number of redeeming scenes showing he is a good person at heart thoughout the movie, so your ‘hero for a change’ comment is somewhat misleading.

      Your response to someone pointing out you had the name wrong and your response to further comments about how you reacted we’re rude an overly and unfairly aggressive, proving that you are the arse and a psuedo intellectual who references cognitive ability unnecessarily.

    • Ignorant. The scene of him beating up the reporter was clearly included to confirm how much he REALLY felt responsible for what happened, and how much he not only respected, but LIKED Niki Luada, not to show “Hemsworth” as a hero. If the latter was true, then the scene wouldn’t have been in the movie had someone else been cast as Hunt, and I seriously doubt that.

  3. Guy makes a mistake with a name and y’all climb all over him,
    But, on the other hand, it would have been better for Tarun to reply “oops, silly misatake, my bad”!

    • By the way, I know the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt and I thought the movie was a very accurate portrayal of the actual events. Of course there are always a bit of “Hollywood” in these movies, and in this case I am with Devon, that the scene with Hunt pounding on the reporter was a case of trying to show that Hunt did indeed develop some respect for Lauda over the years. I’m almost positive that it did not happen that way for real, but I was not a scene to make Hemsworth redeemable. These were two very different men who, when it was all said and done, respected each others qualities as drivers, and as men.

      • shyte, i was using google voice and i see there is no way to edit my comments. bummer

      • Thanks for pointing out what Google Voice did to your comment. I have fixed it. I appreciate your interest in this blog item.

      • Thank you Jerry. I appreciate it very much. I should have checked it before I posted though 🙂

      • Computers do crazy things to normal English! I just had auto-correct change the name of the Oreca racing team to the Oreck XL vacuum cleaner!

      • Tell us all how you “know the story” of these 2….Are you a former employee of the race circuit? Personal pals with one of the 2 drivers? Or just a race fan who reads sports like the rest of us? My guess is the later….don’t make this about you…you have no inside wealth of information.

      • As noted, I was the International Motorsports Editor for The Associated Press, covered the sport personally for many years, and knew the individuals involved well.

      • I read the autobiography

  4. The ending scene and voice over showed what their true feelings were for each other.

  5. […] zu steigen und um die Punkte zu fahren? Außerdem habe ich versucht herauszufinden, ob die kleine Prügelei zwischen dem Reporter und Hunt nach der Pressekonferenz wirklich stattgefunden […]

  6. James and niki were friends they drove in formula 3 in England and lived together at the time, I have read in a flat in London.

  7. The “hero punches slimy person in the face” scene is such a terrible hollywood cliche. I sometimes wish they could shake things up and let the guy who is punched pull out his gun and shoot the guy who punched him. Because that how it works, you can’t just do things like that without the risk of repercussion. But hollywood want’s to teach us that violent and sadistic behaviour is a good thing and that it works. The “punch in the face” scene is one example of that, and so is “cop beats up suspect until he admits to being guilty” scene.


  9. […] Rush: did james hunt really punch out a journalist […]

  10. What a stupid idea including that big lie in the movie. lt never happened and looks like a suggestion from the bad actor that portays Hunt

  11. get a hobbie…pathetic bunch of creeps…ffs!

  12. Ur arguing is Not relevant. J.Hunt going after the paparazzi did Not happen by All accounts

  13. I also think he would have acted as Lauda. I like Nikki’s phrase: “If you don’t like how I look, you don’t have to look at me.”
    I have seen the movie RUSH and I agree that James Junt, great runner of Formula 1, (which will remain in our memory), would have hit the journalist.

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