Ryan Gosling Interview For Nicolas Winding Refn‘s ‘Drive’
Director Nicolas Winding Refn‘s ‘Drive’ is the story of a Hollywood stunt driver by day (Ryan Gosling), a loner by nature, who moonlights as a top-notch getaway driver-for-hire in the criminal underworld. He finds himself a target for some of LA’s most dangerous men after agreeing to aid the husband of his beautiful neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). When the job goes dangerously awry, the only way he can keep Irene and her son alive is to do what he does best—Drive!
Refn’s previous two films ‘Bronson’ and ‘Valhalla Rising’ are two of my favourite films from recent years, this movie is sure to be a contender for my favourite film of 2011, it is fantastic. Check out what Ryan Gosling had to say about the film below. ‘Drive’ is set for release in September. It also stars the likes of Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac and Albert Brooks.
This film matches European art house cinema with the violent, visceral, adrenaline rush of American cinema and action pictures. As an actor how do you see that vision of putting these two types of cinema together?
Ryan Gosling: First off I can’t believe that they let us do it (laughs). This whole project was charmed in some way, for instance one of the producers, Marc Platt, a year earlier he said to me “I’m never going to send you a script you won’t want to do, when I send you something I promise you’re gonna want to do it.” Then a year later he sent me ‘Drive,’ the second I finished reading the script I called him and said he was right. He gave me this opportunity, which I’ve never had before, where he said “you can have any director you want.” It was clear to me that Nicolas….he’s one of my favourite film makers, there’s nobody like him, this is such a well explored genre that it is hard to believe that you have anything to contribute to it. I just knew Nicolas wouldn’t let himself mimic anybody, he has to be unique, it’s not in his DNA to mimic anyone. It had to be him, I knew if we could get him on board we would have a shot at making something unique.
I asked to have a meeting with him and we sat there for about two hours and he wouldn’t look at me or talk to me, he seemed very bored and disinterested, and unimpressed (laughs). It was like a date that was going horribly wrong, I thought I have to get out of here, this is awful. I feel terrible about myself, I feel terrible about him, I just feel terrible. So then it turns out he was sick, he had the flu, he had this American medication and he was high. He kind of had a Batman neck, he would just stare ahead, them every once in a while he’d look at me like this (twists around stiffly). So he said “can you take me home?” So we got in the car and it was that awkward drive home where you don’t know what to say to each other so I decided to turn up the music, REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore’ came on, and Nicolas, I thought, I wasn’t sure, but it couldn’t be true, but out of the corner of my eye I saw him crying, and then I looked over and he was singing at the top of his lungs, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore., it’s time to bring this ship into the shore, and throw away the ores, forever, because I can’t fight this feeling anymore.” (Bursts into laughter) He then said “I got it, this is the movie, the movie is about a man who drives around Los Angeles at night listening to pop music.” So we tried to tell Marc that this was our idea, and we also thought that really drivers shouldn’t talk, Hossein Amini had written this beautiful beautiful script, it was poetry, it was also really authentic to the world it was set in. But it was the kind of script that was so authentic on paper, that unless you were going to shoot it Ken Loach style I don’t think you could match it’s authenticity. So we had to find a way to somehow marry this fever dream that Nicolas was having listening to REO Speedwagon, and the amazing script. Producers Marc and Adam gave us the freedom to go on that journey and find out what that is, that’s the film (laughs).
The aspect of violence is so intense but at the same time funny.
Ryan Gosling: When I saw Valhalla Rising at the movie theatre, it was one of the only times I had this experience in a movie, but when Mads Mikkelson’s character guts the other character and pulls his intestines out, everybody in the theatre just started laughing, they were hitting each other and turning around and the whole theatre came to life. Suddenly it was fun to go to the movies. It was allowed to be poetry and it was also allowed to be funny, and fun. It didn’t have to be serious all the time. To me that’s amazing, the way Nicolas handles violence. Even last night, we both got to watch the colour timing before a screening of it, we got to go into the cinema alone, we got to sit there and watch them check the sound and check the colour. The scene where Albert Brooks stabs the other character in the neck came on and we all just started laughing. It’s nice to treat the violence in a slightly cartoonish way, it makes it more fun somehow.
How was it working with Albert Brooks?
Ryan Gosling: I think we all felt that the film became officially awesome when Albert Brooks became Bernie Rose and decided to play this villain. There’s no one like him, you love him, and it’s even more terrifying if you love your villain. Personally I think the movie wouldn’t be the movie without Albert. But really with everything, as soon as Carey came on board, Ron Pearlman, Oscar, Christina. Nicolas is really great at casting who he felt is right. With these characters you don’t have to go to the characters, they come to you in a way.
Even though the film is wholly unique, at times I did get a slight Steve McQueen vibe.
Ryan Gosling: Honestly when you’re doing a film like this people like Steve McQueen loom large, they’re legends, you can’t really think about that, you’re never going to achieve that, it’s a different time now. We really tried, in some ways, to honour the spirit of those films with this, but at the same time make something that is our own. I feel like we wanted to make something that wasn’t just macho, somehow make a film that was tough, but that wasn’t posturing, or macho. It’s why we made the titles pink, there has to be a certain softness, a purity to it. So the reason we didn’t want much dialogue wasn’t to mimic those films, it was because we felt like there’s a dynamic in this film between a man, a woman and a child, there’s a natural harmony that happens when those energy’s are in a room together. You can hear it if you listen. So opposed to me talking and acting like a macho man, Carey acting like a sexy lady and the kid acting cute, funny and ironic, we learned a lot when we tried to be still and let that dynamic speak for itself. We were more inspired by that more than those films. We were inspired by Prince as well. It was a mix.
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