from James Sallis's novel of the same name by screenplay
writer Hossein Amini. To find
out more about this ultra-cool movie and how it was brought to
life on the big screen read the Drive
by: Nicolas Winding
Hossein Amini (screenplay)
James Sallis (book) Starring:Ryan Gosling -
Carey Mulligan - Irene
Bryan Cranston - Shannon
Albert Brooks - Bernie Rose
Oscar Isaac - Standard
Christina Hendricks - Blanche
Ron Perlman - Nino
Kaden Leos - Benicio
Jeff Wolfe - Tan Suit
James Biberi - Cook
Russ Tamblyn - Doc
Joey Bucaro - Chauffeur
Tiara Parker - Young Woman
In 2008 Hugh Jackman was originally cast for the role of Driver but by
2010 Jackman was no longer attached to the project and Ryan
Gosling took on the role.
Drive's producer Marc E. Platt
explains why he contacted Gosling about the role of Driver, "I have
this list that I've created of very talented individuals whose work
inspire me; writers, directors, actors whom I have to work with before
I go onto another career or do something else with my life. Near the
top of that list was Ryan Gosling." Around 48 hours later Platt heard
back from Gosling agreeing to take the role.
reason Gosling was attracted to the script was because it had a "very
strong character" at its core as well as a powerful love story. Gosling
had always been interested in doing an action movie but had often found
that today's action movies focus more on the stunts than the story and
After completing a stunt driving crash course, Gosling did a number of
the stunts himself. Also during production, Gosling re-built the 1973
Chevy Malibu that his character uses in the movie, taking it apart and
putting it back together.
When it came to selecting the
rest of the cast, Refn chose not to cast actors based on casting tapes
or auditions. Instead, he required they meet him in person at his house.
August 2010 Carry Mulligan was cast to star in Drive as Irene, a Los
Angeles-born Anglo mother raising her 7-year-old Latino child. Mulligan
stated she was interested in working Refn because she was a fan of his
films Bronson (2008) and Valhalla Rising (2009).
role of Irene was originally written as a Latina woman in her late 20's
but when Refn chose Mulligan he made adjustments to the script to
casting Mulligan, Refn had not seen any of Mulligan's movies, but as
soon as he met her, he recalled; "I knew we had our Irene." He felt by
casting Mulligan it would cement the love story in a more engaging way.
He explained; "It made it more of a Romeo & Juliet kind of love
story without the politics that would in this day and age be brought
into it if you had different nationalities or different religions."
For the duration of her time working on the movie Carey Mulligan stayed
at Nicolas Winding Refn's house.
being a fan of Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, who plays the role of
Shannon, was one of the first actors Refn looked to cast. Refn
initially tried to interest Cranston in the role by asking him how he
would like to develop the character but after not hearing back from
Cranston, Refn called him at the very same time that Cranston was
making a list of the pros and cons of the doing the movie. In the end
Cranston accepted the role as he was moved by Refn's interest.
Refn suggested Albert Brooks for the role of foul-mouthed,
Bernie Rose, Gosling agreed but thought the actor would not
for playing this violent and sullen character or that he would not
agree for appearing in a movie the he did not work on himself. However,
to go against typecasting and because he loved that Bernie was not a
cliché, Brooks accepted the role. Brooks stated; "There are six people
you could always get to play this kind of part, and I like
the director was thinking outside of the box. For me, it was an
opportunity to act outside the box. I liked that this mobster
real style. Also, he doesn't get up in the morning thinking
killing people. He's sad about it. Upset about it. It's a case of,
'Look what you made me do.'"
the casting of Perlman, Refn said, "The character of Nino was
originally not particularly interesting, so I asked Ron why he wanted
to be in my movie when he's done so many great films. When Ron said, ‘I
always wanted to play a Jewish man who wants to be an Italian
gangster', and I asked why, and he said, ‘because that's what
am, a Jewish boy from New York.' Well, that automatically cemented it
Oscar Isaac portrays a Latino convict named
Standard who is married to Irene
and is just released from prison a week after Irene meets The
Driver. He found the role to be a bit unappealing and chose to turn
the archetypal character into something more. He stated, "As
as I sat down with Nicolas, he explained this universe and world of the
story, so we made the character into someone interested in
a restaurant, someone who made some wrong decisions in his life,
ending up in a bad place. By making 'Standard' more specific and more
interesting, we found that it made the story that more
Jacinda Barrett was considered and auditioned for the role of
Refn felt that although the
role of Blanche was small it was important. He originally auditioned
porn stars for the part as he was "Trying to work in a more
reality arena for a character like that." However, he was unable to
find anyone who was good enough acting-wise. It was then that Refn's
wife recommended Christina Hendricks for the role of Blanche, after
seeing her photo's and thinking she was very beautiful. After meeting
with Hendricks, Refn decided to cast her, feeling her
"powerhouse" persona would click with the character.
Despite prominent billing Christina Hendricks, who plays Blanche, has
infact less than 10 minutes of screen time.
Bryan Cranston (Shannon), Ron
Perlman (Nino) and Christina Hendricks (Blanche) are all actors that
are currently playing in popular drama television shows;
Bad, Sons of Anarchy and Mad Men, respectively.
James Biberi, who plays the role of Cook, plays against type in this
movie from his typical minor roles as policemen.
Writer, James Sallis' crime novel is centered around an unnamed
Hollywood stunt driver who also drives getaway cars at night and finds
himself in a life-threatening position after a bank heist goes wrong.
Marc Platt and Adam Siegel of Marc Platt Productions, felt that Driver
was a rare character who had purpose, excels at one thing and makes no
apologies for it. He reminded them of characters similar to the ones
usually portrayed by Clint Eastwood.
early 2008 Neil Marshall was set to direct a film adaptation of Drive
and at that time the movie was being described as "an L.A.-set action
mystery" that had Hugh Jackman attached to star as Driver.
early 2010 neither Neil Marshall or Hugh Jackman were attached to the
project and Nicolas Winding Refn stepped into the directorial
role after being hand-picked by Ryan Gosling.
Ryan Gosling signed on to do this movie he was allowed to choose the
director, which was a first for the actor. He chose Nicolas
Winding Refn because he was
a fan of his work, stating; "And I thought, it had to be Nicolas. There
was no other choice." However, Gosling was unsure if Refn would do the
project as it was not like anything he had ever done before.
Screenwriter Hossein Amini
adapted the novel for the screen and he felt this was a rare book to
receive from a studio as it was short, gloomy and like a poem.
found adapting the novel for the big screen challenging as the
novel is not presented as a linear story with many flashbacks
jumps around in time. He felt the non-linear structure made it "a very
tricky structure" for a feature film.
This is Nicolas Winding Refn's first movie he did not write the script
for and that's based on a novel.
Refn actually has no interest in cars and in
fact has failed his driving test 8 times and currently does not hold a
Refn first read the screenplay for Drive he felt more intrigued by the
concept of the main character having a split personality, i.e. being a
stunt man by day and a getaway driver at night, than the story itself.
Drive has been described as a tough, hard-edged neo-noir art house
feature, extremely violent and very stylish, with European art and
grindhouse influences. According to Refn, Drive turns into a superhero
film during the elevator scene because that is when the Driver kills
Refn's main inspiration for Drive came from Grimm's Fairy Tales, and
his goal was to make a movie that was structured like a fairy tale:
condensed in its storytelling and with archetypal characters. Refn sees
The Driver as a knight who roams around the countryside searching for
people to save. Refn was also inspired by films such as Point Blank (1969),
(1971), and The Driver
(1978). Jean-Pierre Melville's crime productions influenced the
Driver's character has been compared to the Man
With No Name, a
character Clint Eastwood portrayed in the Sergio Leone westerns,
because he almost never speaks and communicates mostly non-verbally.
The Driver's low dialogue is not designed to present him as tough, but
to soften him. Refn chose to give The Driver very little dialogue and
instead have him drive around listening to pop music, taking control
when it counts.
The Driver and Irene actually say very little to each other, primarily
because Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan felt that their scenes should
be more focused on the mood and didn't say many of the scripted lines.
Mulligan summarized making the film as "staring longingly at Ryan
Gosling for hours each day."
The production budget of this movie was about $13 million and it was
shot in various parts of Los Angeles. Refn moved into a home based in
Los Angeles and he made the screenwriter Amini and cast members move in
with him. Refn also had the editing suite set up in his home. They
would work on the script and film all day and then watch movies, edit
or drive at night. With a shooting script of 81 pages, Refn and
Gosling trimmed down the dialogue during filming.
To get to know Los Angeles, Nicolas Winding Refn spent most of his time
with Ryan Gosling, as he had not knowledge of the city.
Drive's hot pink title sequence was inspired by 1983's Risky Business'
As the budget was low, Refn shot the opening scene in two days and with
two different set-ups prepared in the car, Refn found mobility with the
camera difficult, so he then switched the camera to two additional
set-ups nearby. Refn avoided shooting in the better looking areas of
downtown Los Angeles so as to preserve the gloomy atmosphere and the
scene was also shot with minimal light and at low-angles.
Using the Arri Alexa camera, the film was shot digitally. According to
the executive producer Lancaster, the film contains abundant,
evocative, intense images of Los Angeles that are not often seen.
Lancaster explained, "From the little seen back streets of downtown LA
to the dry arid outposts on the peaks of the desert landscape
surrounding it, Siegel has re-imagined an LA all the way down to the
rocky cliffs by the sea."
credits song "Nightcall" by Kavinsky, was suggested by editor Mat
Newman which was also used in The Lincoln Lawyer in which Drive costume
designer Erin Benach also worked on!
the idea for the scene where Driver is listening to the radio whilst
waiting was based on an awkward moment when Ryan Gosling drove Nicolas
Winding Refn when Refn had a cold and REO Speedwagon was playing on the
The car scenes were filmed with a "biscuit rig", which is a camera car
rig developed for the film Seabiscuit
(2003). This allows a precision driver to steer the car, freeing
Gosling to concentrate on acting.
Wide-angle lenses were heavily used by cinematographer Newton Thomas
Sigel and handled camera work was avoided. Refn also avoided use of
so as to keep the movie more grounded and authentic and because of
During his phone conversation with Bernie, after Nino drowns, the
Driver references the story "The Scorpion and the Toad". In the story,
the toad carries the scorpion across the river; the scorpion stings the
toad, and they both drown. When asked by the toad, "Why sting me, when
we would both drown?" The scorpion replied, "It's my nature". As the
back of the Driver's coat is a yellow scorpion, this implies that he is
the scorpion in the story.
make the stomping on the head scene in the elevator more brutal and
realistic Nicolas Winding Refn sought advice from writer and director
Gaspar Noé and asked him how he had done the head-smashing scene in his
to director, Nicolas Winding Refn due to the MPAA stating that the head
stomping scene was too violent that scene was cut down a lot.
gory effects for the deaths of Blanche, Cook and Shannon were digitally
added over fake blood during post-production due to the movie's limited
While shooting the beach scene, Ron Perlman shattered his knee when a
wave him him.
director Nicolas Winding Refn filmed a different ending scene where the
Driver actually dies after he and Bernie stab each other and was used
in an early test screening.
In November 2010 filming of Drive
dead body count for this movie is 10, which includes, Standard,
Blanche, the two hotel thugs, elevator guy hit-man, Cook, Shannon,
Nino, Nino's chauffeur driver and Bernie.
Beth Mickle was hired as Drive's production designer on
Gosling's recommendation, after working together on Half Nelson (2006).
Mickle's crew built Driver's apartment building which included a
hallway and elevator that linked his unit to Irene's. Mickle also made
a strip club and re-created Brooks' character's apartment in an
abandoned building. The most challenging was turning a
"run-of-the-mill" Los Angeles auto body shop into a grandiose
dealership, painting the walls an electric blue color and bringing in a
showroom full of vintage cars.
Ryan Gosling had also worked with Drive
costume designer Erin Benach, where she designed clothes for Gosling in
Half Nelson and Blue Valentine. Gosling has also worked with casting
director Mindy Marin before this movie.
Although Drive is set in the present day, it deliberately carries a
1980's atmosphere, underlined by the vehicles used, the music, clothes
and the architecture.
Originally Angelo Badalamenti was reported to compose the score
but Martinez later confirmed the name was used as a
Refn wanted electronic music for the film and to have the music
occasionally be abstract so viewers can see things from the Driver's
perspective. He gave composer Cliff Martinez a sampling of songs he
liked and asked Martinez to emulate the sound, resulting in "a kind of
retro, 80ish, synthesizer europop".
Refn picked out songs from mixer Johnny Jewel's catalog "Under Your
Spell" and "A Real Hero", as he thought of Drive being a fairytale. But
Jewel worried that the latter song might be too literal but he soon
realized that it's used in Drive "in the exact same way that I was
feeling it when I wrote it. He definitely got the nuance of the song,
and understood what it was supposed to mean, and he wanted to give that
emotion to the viewer, that same feeling."
For more insight to the making of this movie, take a look at these
behind the scenes interviews/featurettes: