Please forgive the movie’s director, Nicolas Winding Refn, for being fascinated – at least in the abstract – with the concept of someone who is a specialist in driving other people around. Mr. Refn himself has spent his entire life – when he’s been in need of automobile transportation – being driven by other people.
Mr. Refn doesn’t own a car. He doesn’t drive himself. He has no driver’s license. In fact, he only has the barest notion of how to operate a motor vehicle.
(In 2009, when Mr. Refn first met actor Ryan Gosling for a dinner in Los Angeles to talk about a possible film collaboration, Mr. Refn – who wasn’t feeling well – asked Mr. Gosling to drive him back to his hotel. They resolved to make a movie about a loner who drives around L.A. at night listening to classic rock.)
“I failed my driver’s license test eight times,” Mr. Refn, 41, said at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, where “Drive” was featured. “I don’t have a license, and will never get a license.”
He’s also no “car guy”.
“I have no interest in cars,” the Danish-born director said. So, from that standpoint, he said he felt a challenge around the idea of making a movie about something he personally didn’t care about: namely, driving a car.
But Mr. Refn, who now lives in New York City, does find appeal in being driven. In fact, he said he spent four months in pre-production with Mr. Gosling driving him around L.A. each night, listening to golden oldies on the radio.
“But,” he allowed, “there is something fascinating about speed. Not the mechanical aspects behind it. Not the car. But the sense of it. The rhythm of movement.
“Ryan understood that. That is why I think he captures his character’s motivation so brilliantly.”
So Ryan drives; Nic doesn’t.
September 22, 2011