Nicolas Winding Refn on Drive

Director Nicolas Winding Refn talks Drive, and Logan's Run.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Nicolas Winding Refn

The films of Nicolas Winding Refn have been acclaimed on the indie scene, until now. Drive has been the favorite of major film festivals like Cannes and Toronto. The violent action movie has an all star cast including Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks and Bryan Cranston. At Comic-Con and the Toronto International Film Festival I got several questions in with Refn about Drive, his upcoming Thai boxing film called Only God Forgives and the possible remake of Logan’s Run.


Crave Online: One thing that’s so satisfying about Drive is how much is not said and over-explained. Was it a struggle or fight to pare the script down, in that fashion?

Nicolas Winding Refn: No, it came out of me not liking talking. I felt that silence is the greatest word ever. I just wanted them to look at each other. The purity of love is seeing your first love, just looking at her. Because he’s a man of silence, he’s a character that only speaks when he’s spoken to or has something to say. That already makes him mythological because when you don’t talk, people read things into you. You become what they long for, almost the mirror image of the person. When I did Valhalla Rising with Mads Mikkelsen he was mute the whole way through, so I was interested in working with a protagonist who doesn’t speak.


Crave Online: Does that also revitalize the genre, to just do it in its purest form?

Nicolas Winding Refn: Yeah, I believe the stronger the purity, the stronger the drama.


Crave Online: In this film, it seems very easy for people to kill people. Were you exploring how easily you could just end someone, as opposed to the movies where it’s hard to pull a trigger?

Nicolas Winding Refn: Fairy tales, once the bad guys are judged, it’s always very vicious but it’s always in one sentence. It’s very quick. I felt that violence works when it comes quick and unpredictable.


Crave Online: They really make sure they’re dead too. No one’s getting up for one last surprise.

Nicolas Winding Refn: Once you got people down, the Driver finishes you. He’s like One Eye in Valhalla Rising. If you provoke him, he doesn’t just fight you. He annihilates you which is a very animalistic thing to do.


Crave Online: Was that out of any frustration for the PG-13 violence that’s toned down for the rating?

Nicolas Winding Refn: Oh no, I’m not a political filmmaker. I just make films based on what I want to see.


Crave Online: Has the acclaim for Drive changed the conversations you’re having with Hollywood studios or are they still trying to get you to do things their way?

Nicolas Winding Refn: No, there’s been a lot of respect from Hollywood, a lot. I just said no to everything.


Crave Online: What was your take on the Thai boxing movie?

Nicolas Winding Refn: I was very interested in the catharsis of Muay Thai, the violent climactic emotional relief. Though I’ve never been in a fight in my life and I don’t want to. I’ll probably die.


Crave Online: Have you been drawn to the Muay Thai films?

Nicolas Winding Refn: I haven’t really seen any of them. I saw Ong Bak, the first one. That was very impressive.


Crave Online: So it’s not that type of Thai boxing?

Nicolas Winding Refn: I’m more fascinated by them and I’m interested in them.


Crave Online: Would it be like a sports movie?

Nicolas Winding Refn: That’s for me to know and you to find out.


Crave Online: Could you bring Ryan back for a sequel to Drive?

Nicolas Winding Refn: If there is a sequel it’s going to be with two drivers. Now you can speculate. I’m not there yet. Right now we’re so involved in Only God Forgives and I really want to make Logan’s Run afterwards with Ryan.


Crave Online: Are you close to that?

Nicolas Winding Refn: I’m close to presenting how I would like to make it.


Crave Online: Do you think you could do Logan’s Run with little dialogue like Drive? So many sci-fi movies over explain too much.

Nicolas Winding Refn: Well, that’s the big trick. Sometimes over-explaining is actually what makes it more complicated.


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