Drive: Interview with Hot Director Refn.

Danish Nicolas Winding Refn, who is 40, is the director of the thriller-actioner-noir “Drive,” which world-premieres in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Fest.  So far, Refn is best known for his genre movies like the “Pusher” trilogy, set in the underworld of Copenhagen.  Refn is the son of film editor Anders Refn, who has worked on many of Lars von Trier’s movies.

 

“Drive” was in development for several years, and at one point Hugh Jackman was attached to it.  Based on the novel by James Sallis, “Drive,” which will be released in the U.S. by FilmDistrict, is set in downtown Los Angeles. Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt driver, moonlighting as a getaway man by night, who finds himself on the run after a heist goes terribly and uproariously awry.

 

With this movie and the upcoming “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Ryan Gosling, one of the most respected actors in the indie world, is moving toward the mainstream.  Will he become an action star?

Meeting Ryan Gosling

Refn: I got involved, because Ryan Gosling wanted to make it with me.  I had never met Ryan, but he’d seen my films and he arranged to meet me in Los   Angeles.  I happened to be in L.A., trying to do a film with Harrison Ford.

Changing the Book

Refn: I was interested in the story because Ryan was interested. That led to the development of the character of the driver.  I read the book, which I really liked. But I had a very different view toward the film. So I moved to a house in Los   Angeles and started to work on the script.

 

Lean, Mean Script

 Refn: I didn’t have a lot of money to work with, so you have to keep it lean. Besides, the driver is a very silent character, who doesn’t talk much.

 

Ryan Gosling’s Character

Refn: The story is about a man who by day is a stunt car driver and by night a getaway driver. He never stays in the same place for a long time.  Ryan is a great actor, and he could become a great movie star.

 

Carey Mulligan

Refn: Originally, I was looking for a Latino actress, because that was in the book.  But then I got a call asking if I would meet Carey.  She came by my house in L.A., and the second I saw her, I knew it was going to be her. Ryan’s character is always on the move, and he moves into an apartment, where Carey lives across the hallway. She’s a single mom, because her husband is in prison, and they fall in love. The husband has a debt to the Mafia, the driver has to come in and save the day, and everything goes haywire.

 

Film Noir

Refn: The book is very much about film mythology, so I leaned on that style. It’s L.A. noir.  It was because it would be fun shooting a Hollywood movie in Hollywood.

City Sites

Refn: I don’t drive a car, so that made me look at different areas of L.A. with a fresh eye.  I would drive around a lot with Ryan, looking at different, exotic places. Ryan knows L.A. well, which was very useful.

 

Bonding with Ryan

Refn: Ryan is the person who gave me the opportunity to make this film. We really hit it off, and that’s important, because making films is a very emotional experience. At the end, we decided to make another film together, probably a remake of Logan’s Run.

 

The Shoot

Refn: Seven weeks was a tough shoot: We really under the gun all the time. I only had limited budget. But I come from such a background and that’s how I had made my earlier films.

 

Hollywood Lifestyle

Refn: I did want to live the whole Hollywood life, during the shoot, to have a house, swimming pool, orange tree, and everything that came with it.  I had great classic Hollywood experience, and I loved it.

 

Cannes Premiere

Refn: I’ve never been to Cannes Film Festival, only to Venice. What’s interesting about Cannes, you can actually have a movie that has all the potential of winning, and then some strange film from Kazahhstan comes along, and it’s such a masterpiece, it surprises everybody.

 

The uncertainty, the unknown factor makes it very exciting to be here.