According to Empire, Ryan Gosling has taken over Hugh Jackman’s place in the lead role of Drive, an adaptation of a short novel by James Sallis. The film has also changed directors, switching from Neil Marshall (The Descent) to Nicolas Winding Refn (writer/director of the critically acclaimed film, Bronson). Empire learned about the changes from Refn himself during a brief chat about his upcoming projects.
Considering that it’s been almost two years since we last talked about Drive, I can’t say I’m surprised to hear about these changes. In Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for movies to sit in development hell for months, years, or even decades. Obviously, in this instance, there was something going on behind the scenes that just wasn’t clicking. Perhaps with Gosling and Refn on board, the film will gain new life.
In case you don’t recall what Drive is about, the film will center on a man (Gosling) who is a stunt car driver by day and a getaway driver by night. For some more information, here’s an excerpt of review of Sallis’ novel from Amazon.
“Drive…combines murder, treachery, and payback in a sinister plot resembling 1940s pulp fiction and film noir. Told through a complex, cinematic narrative that weaves back and forth through time and place, the story explores Driver’s near-existential moral foundations while revisiting its root cause: his hardscrabble, troubled childhood. Dark and gripping, Drive packs a powerful punch.”
From the description of the novel, it sounds like the protagonist is a pretty gritty dude. While some may think that Gosling is too soft to play that kind of role convincingly, I disagree. While I think that both Gosling and Jackman are terrific actors and either of them would probably be good in the role, there’s something about Gosling that strikes me as a more believable everyman than Jackman. While I haven’t read Sallis’ novel (though it sounds like something I’d enjoy), my initial impression is that this guy isn’t meant to be an action hero, which, fair or not, is how Jackman is perceived among most audiences.
Like I said though, I haven’t read the book so I really have no frame of reference for the character. Have you Screen Rant readers out there read it? If so, what’s your take on the casting change?