Anyhow, we sat down with self-proclaimed "fetish" director Refn for a lengthy chat this week, and it was an eye-opening experience; if a bit like a coy game of you show me yours and I might show you mine (not entirely evasive, but somewhat elusive). While he's working in the mainstream on "Drive," his next few offerings seem more than a little off the beaten path and see him working internationally with French investors. But Hollywood has their claws in him, as he's attached to a "Logan's Run" remake with legendary producer Joel Silver, and the suits to have their eye on the filmmaker, even if in some cases, he hasn't even had discussions with the studios that are apparently targeting him. Here are five things we learned about "Drive," "Logan's Run," Refn's desire to do "Wonder Woman" and his placement on various studio "shortlists."
"Drive" started life as a $60 million movie at Universal.
Refn explained the film, based on the James Sallis novel, had been in active development as a blockbuster for quite a while, with one incarnation involving Hugh Jackman and director Neil Marshall. But when Refn came aboard, he changed, as he says, "80%" of the script and tailored it towards his own vision (he acknowledges a certain leading lady died in an early version that was more action-oriented). " 'Drive' is an existentialist novel about a stuntman, and about movie mythology," Refn says of the aborted studio version. "The [studio] bought the book and used a portion of it where he was a getaway driver. You don't need to buy a book to do a movie about a getaway driver, that was ludicrous to me. I didn't take everything from the book, but I kept what I liked and the core. Because that's what fascinated me, a movie about Hollywood, about that illusion." Feeling that the story's strength lied in its simplicity, Refn headed into shooting with an rather short-by-most-standards 81-page shooting script.
Don't look for him to make a male-centric man-in-tights film, Refn said he's already made his superhero movie, and it is "Drive."
When asked about the anti-hero status of Ryan Gosling's driver, Refn clarified he was no mere human. "He transforms himself into a superhero, which is a man of conflict," says Refn. "Because he has impulses that he can't deny. The movie's about a man who’s half man and half machine. Those two elements have to emerge, but in the movie they are separated until everything starts to merge in his life. At the end of the film he's now both things. He does it for the right reasons, the violence is justified, but it's heightened." Refn further claimed his goal was to make this story "mythological."
Once again Refn said he was "born" to make "Wonder Woman."
Even though Warner Bros. hasn't been able to put together a "Wonder Woman" movie (aside from commissioning and then dropping a script penned by Joss Whedon), Refn has lobbied hard for the job, despite not even reading the comics. "I would love to make 'Wonder Woman,' " Refn declares enthusiastically. "I would be the best at making 'Wonder Woman.' I was born to make 'Wonder Woman.' To do a movie about a universe where women are more powerful then men -- this appeals to me very much." When asked about the rumors about Christina Hendricks being his number one choice, Refn chooses his words a bit more carefully, paused and then said, "I don't know if I want her per se, but I think she's the perfect type."
His "Logan's Run" remake starring Ryan Gosling will take place thousands of years in the future.
Refn remains attached to develop this property, though he explained that he and Gosling are still developing the story. While stating it's "pure fantasy," Refn says, "What's interesting about 'Logan's Run,' and this is Ryan's perception, was that everything in 'Logan's Run' has come true. And he's right. So the trick is, if 'Logan's Run' was conceived today about the next century, what would it look like?" While the project has the stigma of being a remake, Refn has established he's trying to do something new. "One of my conditions was starting over from scratch," he says, claiming he's gone back to study the original novel.
Refn has "said no to everything," though he says he knew nothing about being on the "Die Hard 5" shortlist.
A while ago, Refn's name surfaced on a list of potential "Die Hard 5" directors, which he was very much unfamiliar with ("I had no idea," he said). Though it doesn't sound like he would have said yes, regardless. "I'm sure there would be many other filmmakers that would be better suited than me to tackle that specific project," Refn demurred politely, adding, "Can I say that in a nicer [possible] way?" When asked specifically about "Die Hard," Refn echoed how everyone seems to feel about that series. "There are certain [franchises] that there's no point to try and change them," he said. "Because [the people involved] probably wouldn't want it to be changed. It's much more fun conceiving something from its origin like 'Logan's Run.' If I was to do a studio movie at least make it a fun studio movie and not just the same thing again." Amen.
"Drive" opens Friday, September 16th.