“I’m just so sick of talking about Drive,” says an exasperated Nicolas Winding Refn. As opening interview exchanges go, it’s far from ideal. But, given its ubiquity, you can hardly blame the 41-year-old Dane for growing weary of discussing his tyre-screeching instant classic. And given how busy he is with its follow-up, he’s not keen to talk at all. Undeterred, ShortList took a deep breath and prepared for an encounter that promised to be as tense as a lift from Ryan Gosling’s nameless sociopath...
So, is it due to the attention that Drive has received that’s made you sick of it?
No, no of course not. You’re always happy with the success. But I’ve talked about this movie extensively for more than a year, so that’s it. I don’t know what else I can add.
Were you shocked that it came out of nowhere to become such a phenomenon?
It’s not so much shock, I was just very happy.
You’re working with Ryan Gosling again on your new film Only God Forgives, and you have a third project planned together. Has he officially become the De Niro to your Scorsese now?
Well yeah, it just feels right. Ryan and I are very similar. On Drive I was living with Carey [Mulligan] because she had no place to stay, and Ryan would always come over and hang out. So it was very communal in that sense.
You’re filming in Bangkok, and there are rumours that the film hinges on a boxing match...
That’s a secret. You’ll have to see the movie.
Someone infamously tried to sue your distributors because of the lack of driving in your last film. What sort of strange complaints do you think you could receive about this new one?
That was kind of a strange thing. I don’t know, maybe [with this film] it will be that there’s not enough fighting,or something.
Why did you decide to film it in Thailand?
I always wanted to make a movie here. There are so many things [I like]. There’s good food, there are good locations and cheap labour [laughs].
A sequel to the novel Drive was adapted from is coming out this spring. Any plans for a film follow-up?
Well I think that... hmm. Let me just say that I haven’t made up my mind yet. Stranger things have happened...
It would mean you’d have to talk about Drive a bit more…
Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t do it.
Moving on, you have some experience with British TV as you directed an episode of Marple in 2007. What was that like?
I did two episodes of Marple back to back because, basically, I needed the money. It was fun — a good experience. I really liked working with Geraldine McEwan, she was a great actress. And Amanda Burton, too.
Are there any other British TV shows you’d like to work on?
I would have loved to direct Doctor Who but they didn’t want me — they turned me down last year. Maybe if they revive Blake’s 7 I could do that. I love it. It’s great. That could be fun to update.
And you’re remaking another slice of Seventies sci-fi with Logan’s Run — what drew you to it?
OK… Do you feel like you’re part of the boom in Scandinavian TV shows and films heralded by the success of The Killing, Borgen, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and more?
Well, I haven’t been around to actually watch any of it so I don’t really know what’s going on. I may have a Danish passport, but I’m a New Yorker at heart.
Ironically enough you don’t drive and failed your test eight times. What happened?
I just didn’t get it, I never passed. There was a sense that I shouldn’t get a driver’s licence. They were right, I shouldn’t.
Drive is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 30 January
(Images: All Star)