Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt will become a grand prix racer this weekend.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have nothing to worry about, since Pitt won’t really be racing, but his presence at the British Grand Prix is proof of the search for realism in a new motorsport movie called Apex.
It’s being filmed this year and is expected to have a full-scale theatrical release sometime in 2024.
Filming of Apex begins this weekend, when Pitt will be in the pits at the Silverstone circuit in a garage constructed specially for the movie work.
It will have the same look and feel as a real grand prix garage, thanks to a deal with Formula 1 management that allows the construction of a movie set alongside the 10 race bases for the real grand prix teams.
“It will be the first movie when, basically, they will be within the racing event,” F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, told motorsport.com.
“It will be quite invasive in terms of production, it’s something that we need to control in a way, but it will be another way of showing that F1 never stops.”
The Apex project has been underway for more than four years and Hamilton, a seven-time world champion with the McLaren and Mercedes-AMG teams, was an early signing as its F1 consultant.
The movie crew also includes star producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Joseph Kosinski, whose most recent blockbuster was Top Gun: Maverick.
The production team met senior F1 management last year, at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, to sort the preliminary details and Pitt has visited several races since then.
Filming will include the use of modified Formula 2 cars, which will be driven on real tracks – including Silverstone – by professional drivers.
The cars will be re-skinned, quite likely using computer-generated imagery (CGI) to look like genuine Formula One cars.
Apart from Pitt, who will star as Sonny Hayes, the cast also includes Damson Idris, playing Joshua Pearce.
The predictable script has Pitt as a retired racer who returns to mentor Idris’s character.
If that sounds familiar, it’s similar to the set-up for the second Top Gun movie – when Tom Cruise coaches a team of younger fighter pilots.
Apart from the plot, other take-outs from Maverick include tiny 6G cameras which can be fitted onto and inside the cars.
The Apex script is also similar to the exorable Driven movie from 2001, a Sylvester Stallone project originally planned to get inside F1 but eventually switched to IndyCar racing in the USA.
The lowlight of Driven, which also had Burt Reynolds in the cast, was Stallone racing his young protege on the streets of Chicago in their race cars.
The Apex project comes following a huge jump in the following for Formula One thanks to the Drive to Survive television series on Netflix.
Rush, a 2013 film re-creating the real-world rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt in Formula One, was also a cinema hit with Chris Hemsworth starring as Hunt.
Other F1-inspired movies include Senna – a documentary about the rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost – in 2010; Lucky from 2022, which tells the life story of the former F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone; and, this year, Villeneuve-Pironi about the toxic relationship between Ferrari team-mates Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi in the early 1980s.