Earlier this week we brought you the first portion of our conversation with actor Ryan Gosling regarding his urban fable Drive. Today we provide the details on the remainder of our interview with the actor.
During the course of our roundtable discussion, Gosling answered questions about his surprising decision to cast Albert Brooks as a raw and brutal criminal, the benefits of working on a small budget film, his relationship with director Nicolas Winding Refn and the upcoming remake of Logan’s Run.
Gosling, as we mentioned in our earlier piece, is not the sort of actor who blindly stepped into a career that did not suit him. Rather, he has taken an active role in crafting his films and often chooses projects that are smaller in scale and offer greater creative freedom. Drive has been marketed as an action film (and it does indeed deliver shocking and unforgettable stunt driving and fight sequences) yet the film is far more layered and complex than your standard popcorn chomper. When Gosling was asked if he ever felt the pressure to ensure that his films are a box office success the actor replied:
“The beauty of making films this way is that they don’t cost much to make so I don’t have those questions. It doesn’t matter to me how it does financially because it just has to make its money back — which isn’t that much to make. I think this film has more of a shot at being out there in the world because it’s getting more support than (some of) my other films. A lot of the time the marketing campaign alone can kill a film, (which is) not necessarily based on the merits of the movie. But we made this film for the audience, we made it for the theater. I wanted this movie to be a film that you wanted to be in the movie theater to see, not one that you wanted to watch at home.”
Gosling went on to explain why he feels that Drive is particularly well-suited to the communal atmosphere of a theater.
“There are films that you’re just glad you’re in a theater to see. When I first saw “Valhalla Rising,” Nick’s (Nicolas Winding Refn’s) movie, halfway through the movie the lead character cuts open his friend and pulls out his guts and starts showing it to him. Everybody lost their minds. They were hitting each other, getting up, laughing, screaming and it just evoked a real hodge-podge of emotions. I can guarantee you that everybody in that theater, whether they liked it or not, was glad that they saw it in a theater. My hope is that’s what we made. We made it to be played loud, made it for the big screen, and I think people will appreciate that.”
Given his penchant for original, and often risky, stories and characters it was somewhat surprising to hear the news of Gosling’s attachment to the remake of the 1976 dystopian sci-fi adventure Logan’s Run.
“I don’t care about it,” Gosling confessed when asked about the project, “but Nicolas does. I came to him with this (“Drive”) and I said. ‘I want you to make this film.’ He said ‘okay,’ then he came to me with “Logan’s Run” and he said, ‘now it’s your turn.’”
The actor has not yet seen the original film, and while he does plan to do so, he does not feel that it will affect the version of Logan’s Run that he and Winding Refn are developing.
“It’s so different from our idea for ‘Logan’s.’ We want to go back more to the book. We also have other ideas. That film was shot in a mall in the seventies and I can’t see how it would influence me.”
In Screen Rant’s interview with the director, Nicolas Winding Refn indicated that he felt that he had found his muse in Gosling. The actor in turn explained that he was drawn to Winding Refn’s work because, “I just feel like his films are so personal and he only shoots what is interesting.” He went on to say that the director, “fetishizes his films,” explaining that:
“They literally turn him on, and if they don’t then he’s not interested in it. He sexualizes them, he fetishizes them. It doesn’t matter if its a pair of gloves or its the way something sits in the frame, it physically has to excite him or he’s bored. So he’s making these movies only for himself and so they feel personal. I’m just lucky that he and I — we share the same fantasy so we can take a film like “Drive” and it can be personal to both of us and have a very clear identity. Marc Platt (“Drive’s” producer) has this expression, he says that he’s the producer of this “feathered fish” and that most movies are these “feathered fish” where they don’t fly, and they don’t swim. A lot of them don’t have an identity. Maybe because they’re not allowed to, because there’s so many cooks in the kitchen. Nicolas makes films for very small amount of money – for people who give him the control. That’s what we had on this film, and we were able to make the film personal and have its own identity.”
Logan’s Run is bound to have far greater financial stakes in play than Drive, when we asked Gosling if he was concerned that the studio may curtail their creative freedom as a result, he replied:
“Well it would be interesting to see how that works in a studio system, but they’re so supportive of ‘Drive’ and they’ve been so supportive of us in the development process that there’s no reason for us to doubt them. I’ve been really enjoying the process of developing it and we’re just focusing on that. We’re just trying to create this world and try to make a movie that we’ll want to see like what we did with ‘Drive’ — so we’ll see how that turns out.”
One of the first areas where filmmakers traditionally face interference from studios is casting. Drive has a distinctly counter-intuitive cast. Comedian Albert Brooks as a ruthless gangster is a particularly surprising choice. As a producer on the film, Gosling took an active role in the casting on Drive. When we asked the actor about the the decision to have Brooks play the film’s antagonist he explained that it was the history that Brooks brought with him (as well as what Gosling sees as a previously untapped savagery) that made him an interesting actor for the role.
“We wanted Albert Brooks from day one, we just wanted Albert Brooks to play Bernie Rose. I just felt like even though he’s one of my heroes, and one of my favorite comedic filmmakers, I also think there’s a violence in him that I wanted to see in action. He’s scary because you love him, because he’s charming… that makes it even scarier.”
When asked if Brooks himself saw it that way, Gosling replied:
“I think he was confused as to why we would want him for that part but I think he knew that he could do it. Anybody who’s seen the film singles him out as being one of their favorite parts of it. Not only can he do it but he possesses it, and you can’t imagine anyone else playing that character. I certainly can’t.”
Gosling continues to refine his skills as a producer with this and other projects – which leads many to wonder if he is grooming himself to eventually take the director’s chair.
“There’s a lot of filmmakers I want to work with before I make my own films and I’m getting a chance to work with them. I wanted to work with George Clooney because he was an actor turned director and I wanted to see how that was in action. I’m learning a lot from Nicolas (Winding Refn) and Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine,” “The Place Beyond the Pines”). I’m just basically trying to treat it as a film school for myself right now before I start making my own films. But, not to undervalue the movies themselves because they’re all movies that I want to do. I want to see those movies, so I’m making them, but I’m also trying to get as much out of them as I can before I transition out of this into that.”
Though we would be loath to lose him as an actor, a Ryan Gosling helmed film is undoubtedly one we would turn out to see.
Drive opens in theaters today.
Follow me on twitter @jrothc