F1 legend James Hunt gains biographical film
James Hunt is a legend of motor racing, we're talking the Formula 1 World Champion of 1976, ninety three races, ten wins, twenty three podiums, fourteen pole positions, eight fastest laps, from 1973 to 1979, his career starting and finishing at the Monaco Grand Prix.
He's a legend in motor racing, particularly in Britain, although he isn't the most obvious choice to be the focus of a biographical film, after all we have stars such as Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell. However the allure of Hunt is the playboy lifestyle he carried with him.
Now there's going to be a film made of his championship winning year, adapted from the book by Tom Rubython called Shunt: The Story of James Hunt (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com), and DreamWorks is the one behind the purchase and the film.
Currently DreamWorks are looking for writers, but they have their producers, and one of them is the man who is going to play the leading role, Alex Pettyfer.
"Pettyfer will play James Hunt, the British racing driver who won the Formula One World Championships in 1976 and whose charm turned the whole country on to the sport."
Eh? Obviously written by someone who has no idea about the history of Formula 1 and motor racing in Britain. They've read a blurb somewhere, or someone else's write up of the film or book.
Before James Hunt there was Mike Hawthorn, twice winner Graham Hill, twice winner Jim Clark (Scottish), John Surtees, and three times winner Jackie Stewart (Scottish). Now tell me, are any of those names not credited with the rise of motor racing and Formula 1 in Britain? There's always been a huge motor racing following in this country.
Now there's another reason to point out that list of winners, not just to poke fun at the American article, but to point out why I find it surprising that James Hunt is the driver to be selected for a biographical film. To me the reason isn't his success in the single World Championship that he won, but perhaps his lifestyle off the race circuit.
For if it was more about Formula 1 surely we would be seeing a film about Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell or the huge legend, Stirling Moss.
The description of the book tells us exactly what we're going to see, and even in here some things don't make you think this is the Formula 1 racing driver to make a film about considering his entire career statistics:
James Hunt is remembered more for his girlfriends and wild personal exploits than for his skills in a race car. But the excesses of his glamorous life cannot hide the fact that he was, in many people's opinion, the fastest driver on the Formula One circuits in the 1970s. In an era dominated by the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Ronnie Peterson, Hunt stood out in terms of raw speed and his seemingly effortless ability to plant a Formula One car on pole position. In this full and comprehensive account of the life of James Hunt, the author and his researchers have examined every detail of the driver's life - from his very earliest days to the last hours of his existence - as well as the lives of the people he left behind. It is the story of a man who started his racing career penniless, earned millions in a lifetime of success, but, in an astonishing twist of fate at the end of his life, died exactly as he had begun - penniless. It is a story many have tried to tell - but never in such a complete way. This is that story.
However it's not about his racing career as much as his life from beginning to end, starting from nothing and ending very close to the same way. A life of success, recognition, fame and excess.
Still, looking back, it was James Hunt that was the first British Formula 1 racing driver I remember seeing before the much more prolific Nigel Mansell and following him through many seasons.
Alex Pettyfer is a great choice though to play James Hunt, he does look the part and he's a pretty decent actor.
I wonder to what extent we'll see the racing, and if the film is planning to CG racing cars, use actual racing, and whether we'll see the kind of racing that we did with Grand Prix.
Perhaps this will pave the way for other famous racing drivers to have films made of their lives, so perhaps a Jackie Stewart biographical film isn't that far off.