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Le Mans '66 in the words of those who made it

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Le Mans '66 is the new high-octane racing drama from Logan film-maker James Mangold, recounting the real-life struggle between two automotive giants.

Oscar winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale play Ford designer Carroll Shelby and British racer Ken Miles, respectively. This chalk and cheese duo must learn to work together and build a pioneering new car that will bring down Ferrari at the 24 Hour of Le Mans race in France.

The film has already received strong reviews from critics, and Cineworlders got to see it in advance during our Secret Screening. (Click here to discover the Secret Screening reactions to Le Mans '66.)

Back in October, we attended the London Film Festival premiere of Le Mans '66, and caught up with Mangold, plus actors Noah Jupe (who plays Miles' son Peter) and Caitriona Balfe (who plays his wife Mollie). 

This is Le Mans '66 in the words of those who made it.

Noah Jupe

On working with Matt Damon and Christian Bale...

I can't really describe it, but just being on the set and experiencing their energy was just really, really fun.

On racing in the cars...

I did get to do that! Not very fast, for insurance purposes, but it's really kindled an interest in the car history.

On his return as Marcus in A Quiet Place: Part II...

I'm very excited about it! We've just wrapped and I had a great time on it. It's a character that I've already worked on, and this is also a family of film-makers that I've grown with. Just to go back to that was amazing.

Noah Jupe at LFF premiere of Le Mans '66


James Mangold

On how he identifies with the pressure felt by Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles...

Certainly I identified with the struggle of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, with their struggle to put a car out that would compete with one of the greatest car-makers of all time.

In the film, they're also dealing with the interference of committees and corporations – in my position as a film-maker, I have to deal with that too. It's not cheap to make a movie, nor is it cheap to put a car out on the road.

In the movie, Shelby is an evangelist and reliant on his ability to communicate, and that's what I have to do as well.

On building each and every Ford and Ferrari for the movie...

We built them all. Who in their right mind is going to own a '66 Ferrari and let you race it for 80 days and risk smashing it up? Also, those cars are worth something like $36 million now. If I'd got just two of them, I'd be two-thirds of the way into my budget.

The reality is we had to build reproductions, although in the scene during the tour of the Ferrari factory, those are real Ferraris in the background.

On how he nurtured the powerhouse performances from Damon and Bale...

Nuturing? [laughs] Nah, they don't need that. They need support and advice, but they're friends, and they're tough guys, not to mention competent. You don't have to do much.

But I suppose it all relates to how do we create an environment that's appropriate to a movie about friendship? In the end, we make a movie where the atmosphere is light and friendly, and where the actors can allow light and joy into their lives and their performances. The whole thing doesn't feel dark or driven.

James Mangold at LFF premiere of Le Mans '66


Caitriona Balfe

On how she worked with James Mangold...

James Mangold is amazing. He's such a great director. Growing up watching Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line or whatever – I was just so excited to work with him.

I read and auditioned for him and I remember we were doing the driving scene, in which he was playing Christian's part. And we were both getting so into it that he hit me with the script! [laughs] I remember thinking, this is going very well, actually!

So I just brought my ideas to him and we were both very much on the same page. I was very lucky to meet the real-life Peter Miles, who Noah Jupe plays in the movie. Obviously this is a dramatised take on his family but he was so generous with his stories about his mum. Having all that made the job a lot easier.

Caitriona Balfe at LFF premiere of Le Mans '66

Le Mans '66 is released in Cineworld cinemas on the 15th of November. Is it on your must-see list? Then let us know @Cineworld.