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Nicolas Winding Refn To Direct & Produce 'Barbarella' Series For TV; Helps Brings Films Of Andy Milligan Back To Life

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 20, 2012 at 11:48AM

While his dream of directing a "Wonder Woman" movie remains just that, it looks like Nicolas Winding Refn will get to exercise his female fantasy hero kicks through another outlet, taking on an equally iconic character.
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Nicolas Winding Refn Barbarella

While his dream of directing a "Wonder Woman" movie remains just that, it looks like Nicolas Winding Refn will get to exercise his female fantasy hero kicks through another outlet, taking on an equally iconic character.

Deadline reports Gaumont and producer Martha De Laurentiis are bringing the iconic hero "Barbarella" -- who first appeared in the Jean-Claude Forest graphic novel and was memorably played by Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim's big screen adaptation -- to the small screen with Refn to direct and executive produce. And well, that's about it at the moment. But it appears this will be pitched as a new series, so we can only guess that once the pilot is out of the way, Refn's involvement will be at the producer level only. That said, his input can only help make this a cut above, and hopefully succeed where NBC's sad "Wonder Woman" miserably failed.

Of course, this isn't the first time "Barbarella" has been eyed for a reboot. At one point Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan were linked to an adaptation that never went anywhere (neither did their "Red Sonja" for that matter), while Joe Gazzam penned a draft that Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde," "Monster-In-Law," "The Ugly Truth") was going to direct. But that too, never made it in front of cameras. So we'll be interested to see if this iteration moves forward, and more importantly, who will dare to step into the sci-fi shoes so memorably worn by Fonda.

In other Refn news, the director recently wrote a piece in The Guardian about one of his cinematic obsessions: the films of Andy Milligan. Refn is a big fan of the little known Milligan -- who moved from helming personal dramas to extreme horror and genre fare like "Gutter Trash," "Fleshpot on 42nd Street," "Guru," "The Mad Monk" and "The Naked Witch" in the '60s and '70s -- and his enthusiasm has taken him to some extreme ends.

"Then I began to get obsessive. I would go on eBay and buy anything connected with Andy," he writes. "One day I came across [biographer Jimmy] McDonough himself, selling his collection of Milligan film materials, including a unique print of 'Nightbirds,' about two hippies in love in London, and a few other super-rare titles – $25,000 (£16,000) for the lot. I did a travel commercial to raise the money, and I bought everything."

That travel commerical he mentions is probably the one below (check it out), but Refn wasn't just keeping this stuff in his personal collection. "When I bought the films, I contacted the British Film Institute right away, and we were able to come up with a way to present 'Nightbirds' and Andy's British horror flick 'The Body Beneath.' However, while looking through the material, I realised we lacked some essential footage," Refn said. "For instance, 'Nightbirds' was missing several key scenes – they had been cut directly from the print to make the trailer! Fortunately, the good people at Something Weird Video in the US were able to help: they had rare 'Nightbirds' materials in their gigantic archive, so with their assistance we were able to complete the movie."

And now, it's available on DVD via BFI's Flipside label (though not in the U.S.) Still, it's a pretty nice little story about a filmmaker Refn is passionate about (he compares Milligan to Douglas Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder) and his whole Guardian essay is worth a read.

This article is related to: Television, TV News, Barbarella, Nicolas Winding Refn


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