How Ferrari stars Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz prepared for the film

I play

Paging Ferrari HQ!

Adam Driver, who plays your legendary patriarch Enzo Ferrari in Ferrari (in cinemas Christmas), calls looking for a car.

“I keep reaching out and no one is answering my call,” says an angry Driver, 40, bursting into laughter.

Just kidding, of course. After all, if anyone could skip the queue for a new Ferrari – the most exclusive models are reserved for select customers of the car company – it would be Driver, who disappears into his legendary character with the slightly hunched over gray hair necessary to play the then 59-year-old automaker in 1957.

Driver and co-star Penelope Cruz, 49, who plays Ferrari’s wife Laura, sheds light on the making of the film, which focuses on a tense period in Ferrari’s life when his company falls into financial difficulties just as his marriage is rocked by the revelation of lover Lina Lardy (Shailene Woodley) and an illegitimate son.

The Michael Mann era actually required extreme authenticity, given that Enzo Ferrari was considered by many in his homeland to be as untouchable as the Pope.

The director spares no expense. He has had the Costa Rican company Pacto make helmets for his drivers since the 1950s. He took the actors to places where Ferrari lived and worked. It records roaring race cars with multiple microphones to best capture their unique exhaust notes.

“Michael had been trying to make this movie for about 30 years, so now that he finally got around to it, he was relentless,” says Driver, who reprises his role as the historical Italian figure after his turn as Maurizio Gucci in 2021 ” The House of Gucci. “It matters to the audience because they can tell when something is unique and specific.”

Michael Mann sent Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz on holiday in Italy to prepare for Ferrari

Filming in the Italian cities of Modena and nearby Maranello, home to Ferrari’s headquarters, the cast was always under the watchful eyes of the locals.

“We felt the pressure for sure,” says Driver. “There are not one but two Ferrari museums in the city. Ferrari iconography is everywhere. But we couldn’t be beaten by that, we had to play with the people we were getting to know.”

For Driver, that meant spending time racing cars in both California and Italy. It also meant a long scouting trip to Modena before filming with Mann and Cruise, during which the trio visited the Ferrari factory, Enzo’s home, and met anyone who remembered the icon.

The two actors also meet Piero Ferrari, the one-time illegitimate son who officially claimed the family years after Laura’s death in 1978 and who, at 78, is now vice-chairman of the company. “I was with Piero as he opened suitcases owned by his father, full of his things,” says Driver. “It gave me a great insight into the person I was playing.”

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For Cruise, her time in Italy, a country she came to know well after filming half a dozen movies there, was crucial to reviving a woman who had remained in the shadows.

“I went to the market where Laura shopped for food, saw the financial books she kept for the company, and went to her apartment,” Cruz says. “That place gave me so much information about the sadness she lived with,” pain that included her husband’s infidelity, as well as the death of the couple’s only son, Dino, at the age of 24 in 1956. “I think she was deeply depressed for many years.

Finding the real Laura Ferrari meant sifting through layers of gossip, says Penelope Cruz

Cruz says that conversations with locals initially revealed stories about Laura Ferrari that described her as “difficult, crazy and scary.”

But the details she eventually revealed revealed a smart, determined, loyal woman filled with “the strength (needed) to overcome all this grief, her son, her marriage and survive. She was one of the first investors in Ferrari and the involvement there kept her going.”

Cruise plays her with fierce intensity. “I don’t think Laura smiles more than twice” in the film, she says. Driver thrives on his colleague’s strength. “She made it look easy,” he says. “She was available, listening and instinctive.”

The Ferrari driver is hardly a laughing stock. The automaker is struggling with bankruptcy while losing friends who drove for it in often deadly auto races. Also, his accounting team tells him he needs to win the 1957 Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile race that brought celebrity to its drivers and showroom sales of his winning cars.

Next up for Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz: How about a comedy?

The on-screen intensity exuded by Driver and Cruise perhaps explains why they are now eager to star in a comedy together.

“I really like him – we have a great time working together and we have a similar sense of humor that couldn’t come across in this movie,” she says. “We’re going to look for smart comedy, something that makes us work together.”

What this duo doesn’t share, however, is a love of cars. Driver says he’s “always liked cars” and has lusted after a Ferrari since seeing the unforgettable Ferrari Testarossa in Michael Mann’s 1980s cop series Miami Vice.

“I knew that Ferraris were simply works of art that could be driven,” says Driver. “But for most of my life I couldn’t get it.”

Cruz, in contrast, wouldn’t have taken the Ferrari if it was free.

“Do I want a Ferrari? Oh, no, no, no, she says. “I don’t like speed. My first question to Michael was, ‘I’m not supposed to drive a Ferrari in this movie, am I?’ … I’m actually very scared in cars and I don’t like people driving fast.”

So, despite being in a big budget movie called Ferrari, she’s never been in a Ferrari?

“Oh, I’ve been to one,” Cruise corrects. “Adam and I were in Piero Ferrari’s garage and there were about 20 cars there and we both got into one and sat in it. And that’s it. That was good enough for me.

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