This is director Nicolas Winding Refn, director of "Drive," "Bronson," "The Pusher Trilogy, "Valhalla Rising," and "Only God Forgives," opening this Friday, fire away!

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Comments: 1886 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

tylerclifton506 karma

With Ryan Gosling's character in Only God Forgives being so similar to his character in Drive, could you see possibly making a trilogy of unrelated films that are focused on this character, kind of like Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy?

NicolasRefn927 karma

I could absolutely see making a trilogy

AwayFromParadise375 karma

1) Wanna fight?

2) How did you do the head-smashing scene in Drive?

3) What's the point of the mask in Drive? Is it the Driver's way to fulfill his delusions of being an action hero?

NicolasRefn489 karma

1) sure! 2)A combination of prosthetic affect added in some CGI 3)yes, it is the idea of transformation

RushmoreBeekeepers352 karma

What does Gosling smell like?

NicolasRefn834 karma

Like a gucci perfume

Donsa95302 karma

One eye vs Bronson vs Julian vs the driver, who would win ?

NicolasRefn1974 karma


ignot0288 karma

Before you said that your movies are like a piece of music, Bronson was influenced by The Pet Shop Boys and Drive by electronic music such as Kraftwerk. Was there a specific style/genre that influenced you in development for Only God Forgives?

NicolasRefn460 karma

For this one it was mostly Thai Pop music

HypocriteOpportunist277 karma

Who would win in a fight? Ryan Gosling from Drive, or Ryan Gosling from Only God Forgives?

NicolasRefn651 karma

Ryan Gosling from Drive, obviously

Sum_Bitch219 karma

What's Mads like?

NicolasRefn296 karma

super cool

Emmileelee215 karma

Hi Nicolas, thanks for doing this AMA. Your films feature the use of long pauses/silences within a scene and imdb has you quoted as talking about the power of said silences, I was wondering if you would you ever consider making a silent film (feature or short)?

NicolasRefn452 karma

I would like one day to make a completely silent film

iamjohnmalkovich190 karma

Which director do you think has influenced your directing the most? Thanks so much for doing this.

NicolasRefn358 karma

For the moment it would be Richard Kern, but then I am married to Fritz Lang's daughter

Sirvandeyxviii176 karma

What is your favorite thing you have ever filmed with a camera?

NicolasRefn625 karma

a woman

jglspajamas152 karma

Was the Driver autistic?

NicolasRefn290 karma


Neocount148 karma

Hello, Mr. Refn,

I am just letting you know that I am a huge fan of your work!

I actually had several questions:

  1. I was wondering what your main influences were in the creation of Drive? Many people have pointed to older films such as The Driver or Michael Mann projects such as Thief and Miami Vice as possible sources of inspiration for story, setting, and atmosphere. What would you say your main inspirations have been?

  2. Also, how do you pick your soundtracks? Your work introduced me to Kavinsky and College, for which I am grateful, as well as a whole genre of similar music. What would you call that genre, and what motivated you to use that kind of soundtrack in Drive?

  3. What motivated you to set Only God Forgives in Thailand specifically?

  4. I have been in several internet arguments about Drive in which other posters have insisted that Gosling's acting was "wooden," that the character was "flat," or even implied that the Driver is a high functioning autistic. I have argued time and time again that the Driver is meant to be deliberately mysterious and ambiguous, but many people seem to misinterpret this as flat or uninteresting. What would you say to the alternate character interpretations some viewers have proposed?

  5. How do you feel about the computer game Hotline Miami (which many people have insisted is stylistically similar to Drive)?

btw the atmosphere of your films is excellent and you are great at stories with morally ambiguous protagonists. What are your next projects, and will they have similar themes?

NicolasRefn155 karma

1: the films of Kenneth Anger 2. retro pop 3. I realized that at night Bongkok was like a magical landscape 4. I've only heard of it, havent seen it, sounds great

jglspajamas144 karma

Why were Drives hands a little dirty and not very dirty?

NicolasRefn255 karma

good question

helloimcallum143 karma

Hello Mr. Refn. I'm a massive fan of Drive and am eagerly awaiting Only God Forgives. So, my question is: which of Gosling's previous films made him 'fit' for Drive? (Please say Lars and the Real Girl) Thanks!

NicolasRefn490 karma

The Notebook

TyrannosaurusMax140 karma

Would you make a film with Nicolas Cage if you got the chance?

NicolasRefn234 karma


chrsztnszn123 karma

Hej Nicolas! I noticed Gaspar Noe was thanked in the end credits of Only God Forgives. Are you fond of his movies? Is his work in anyway inspirational to you?

NicolasRefn215 karma

I love his movies but the thanks came more from the fact that he came to Bangkok to visit while shooting and it was cool to hang out

Frajer113 karma

What is the best thing about working with Ryan Gosling?

NicolasRefn306 karma

he's a super cool ultra ego

TenTwelve1012108 karma

I just want to thank you for doing this ama and I think you make beautiful movies. The 'theatre' bits in Bronson remind me why i love and enjoy the versatility and creativity of filmmaking. Please keep doing what you're doing.

NicolasRefn100 karma

Thank you

DrStrangeloves108 karma

Hello. Thanks so much for doing this! Have you read Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian," and if so, would you ever consider tackling an adaptation of it?

NicolasRefn96 karma

I havent read it, but have heard its very good

bobogun87 karma

It seems you have a strong relationship with Alejandro Jodorowsky; he seems like a very interesting person, how'd you come to meet him?

NicolasRefn121 karma

we liked each other's films, it was a good way to start a conversation

BrownAdventurer81 karma

How did you know Kristin Scott Thomas would be such a knockout as a blonde?!

NicolasRefn368 karma

I realized she had no problem turning on the Bitch Switch


Is it pronounced Wine-ding or wind-ing?

NicolasRefn145 karma

depends on which country you are from

InceptofCLJ62 karma

Can you shed some light on Ryan Gosling's temporary break from acting?

NicolasRefn217 karma

its a loss to the world

4our5quare58 karma

Greetings Mr. Refn, as a fellow artist I consider you a great creative influence. My question for you today is regarding the present status of your remake of Logan's Run, have you officially lost interest in the project with Gosling's departure? Seeing as how thus far you've yet to delve into the territory of sci-fi thrillers, I'm also curious as to where you may consider drawing influence to bring such a world to life. Thank you

NicolasRefn110 karma

I felt that life is too short and felt there were other opportunities. it was a difficult decision as Logan's Run was an important part of my childhood

tgdlaz58 karma

What are you working on right now?

NicolasRefn134 karma

my TV show, Barbarella

_coffee_coffee_57 karma

Cliff Martinez is doing an AMA in six days. What would you ask him?

NicolasRefn179 karma

tell us more drug stories

Neon_Parrott56 karma

Hi Nicolas. So glad you could make time for us.

What is your dream project? If you had unlimited resources and no restrictions, what kind of movie would you pursue?

NicolasRefn177 karma

good question. having all elements at my disposal wouldn't be the right reason to make the movie

Vertov_Bakunin54 karma

Thanks so much for doing this, I'm a huge fan of your work and I can't wait to see "Only God Forgives." Three questions for you.

1.Were you surprised at the reception "Only God Forgives: got at its Cannes premier? Why or why not?

2.You said that, in the case of "Drive", what interested you was not cars but people with fetishes for cars. Is the same case for "Only God Forgives"? Not about boxing but about people who have a fetish for boxing?

3.Finally, a cliché question, any advice for any young filmmakers started out today? Thanks again.

NicolasRefn72 karma

2: yes!

JamesFritzBooth52 karma

Did you ever see this fan poster? Do you think James Dean could've pulled the role off?

NicolasRefn90 karma

its beautiful, imagine having that in your bedroom

Crazierhobbes49 karma

How much sleep do you get in the various stages of filmmaking (prep, production, post)?

NicolasRefn83 karma

next to none

malachor70846 karma

What was your inspiration to make Valhalla Rising?

NicolasRefn163 karma

a story my mother once read to me, a father and son team go together to the moon, on the moon they find a cave with a human coffin, and I can't remember what happened after

horse1245 karma

How is your relationship with Trier at the moment?

NicolasRefn82 karma

I have a lot of admiration for him

warblwarbl45 karma

You've mentioned before how music influences your work, but I am wondering do other art forms? If so, how?

NicolasRefn102 karma

I very much like art installations

DiskMagazine43 karma

Hello Mr. Refn, just wanted to ask a few things

-What movie/ director was your biggest inspiration for getting into filmmaking?

-What were your first steps to becoming a filmmaker, and how difficult was it?

-What is the top priority for you when starting a new film?


-When you were filming 'Drive', did it cross your (or Ryan's) mind that you were about to make, hands down, one of the best films of the last decade?

NicolasRefn116 karma

1) there is not a single one 2) I was very lucky to have been able to make my first film at 24 3)getting it made on budget 4)not in any way (the worst thing is that there are people out there who would have said yes to that)

demamped41 karma

Hi Nicolas,

I'm a huge fan of your work - I'm seeing Only God Forgives tonight and I can't wait. My question is a two parter:

1) How did you feel the culture and atmosphere of Thailand affect your creativity for Only God Forgives, as compared to Los Angeles for Drive? Did you feel like one place was more creatively conductive than the other?

2) The Behind-The-Scenes footage of you and Ryan discussing the parallels between violence and sexuality were really fascinating and interesting - is there any chance of more footage being released as part of a Blu-Ray extra or something similar?


NicolasRefn52 karma

1) both places were very different and had different sensibilities...

ProgGrrl40 karma

What would you say to SyFy TV channel if they asked you to direct the next "Sharknado" movie?

NicolasRefn189 karma

I would say, I'm not good enough!

mikesleftarm36 karma

In an interview somewhere you said that by killing Harrison Ford in a movie you would contribute to society. Do you still pursue this?

Also, can you say anything about I Walk With the Dead?

NicolasRefn110 karma

I said it would contribute to film history, I would love him to death

white_water35 karma

How awesome is it to have a bromance with Ryan Gosling? I read somewhere that you guys are planning on doing a comedy, is it still happening?

NicolasRefn72 karma

working on it!

ElkNight34 karma

When are you going to do a film with Gaspar Noe?

NicolasRefn50 karma

I hope maybe some day

chrissoindie30 karma

Hey Nicolas. I just want to thank you for Bronson, Valhalla Rising and Drive, three of my favorite films. One thing i am upset about is, since I read that your next film (Only God Forgives) was in production, I became so overwhelmed with joy, and have been waiting almost a year. Come to find out, the film is not being released in my state (Connecticut). Is there any way that you could get me a chance to see it? That would be amazing. Oh and also, whats your opinion on Stanley Kubrick's films and Bronson being compared to A Clockwork Orange?

NicolasRefn61 karma

Complain to your local distributor and then rent it On Demand on Friday :) Kubrick: I love them Bronson: sounds great to me

LiquidCoax30 karma

Just wanted to say I think Drive was a great film. Looks and feels a lot like De Palma circa Carlito's Way. I really like your minimalist use of a score to draw more attention to the lighting and really stunning photography.

What advice/tips/luck can you give to an aspiring film maker to help push the boundaries of their art?

NicolasRefn105 karma

do it your way

Angrygoat4429 karma

I take it you're in New York right now. Can I buy you a drink later?

NicolasRefn103 karma

would love to, but I don't drink alcohol

Ohmiglob29 karma

Hi Mr.Refn! Big fan! Fell in love with Drive, sometimes I'll just boot up the movie and watch the first 15 minutes for fun.

1) How's it like to have The Gos as your wingman/muse/bro?

2) What the story behind Logan's Run remake? On/Off? (answered)

3) Was Valhalla Rising in any way inspired by the Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

Thanks in advance, I can't wait for the responses!

NicolasRefn48 karma

1)like flying the Concord 2)my involvement is off for now, but stranger things have happened 3) not my knowledge

whazzafuss28 karma


NicolasRefn49 karma

I love their work

Nicoolai24 karma

I have no real questions, just want to say your rock. Pusher was amazing, but Drive changed my life. DR K showed an amazing documentary, following you around after Drive, the palmes in Cannes and during the beginning/prelude to 'only god forgives'. It was really an amazing thing to watch.

You rock.

NicolasRefn36 karma

thank you!

urbangentlman24 karma

Thank you for this mr refn

In a hollywood of sequels, how do you feel when new ideas are introduced into such a highly saturated market?

when youre at a road do you keep going?? What it is it in you that says no...fuck this, im almost there?

Thoughts on taco bells mountain dew baja blast? thanks again

NicolasRefn61 karma

Baja Blast? I'd be lying if I said I knew what that was

repriseinjustice24 karma

First off, Love your work, Nicolas. I consider you my favorite director of all time. Bleeder is incredible as well as your Pusher trilogy. I saw Drive in theaters and it became an obsession of mine.

1) As shown in the documentary NWR, your love for toy mechas knows little bounds. Have you seen Del Toro's Pacific Rim and, if so, what were your thoughts on the film?

2) At what point in your life were you in during the production of Bleeder? The film practically emits noxious fumes and it is singularly one of the most caustic pictures in recent memory.

3) How do you feel about Fear X as a project? I ask because when I first saw that film, for some strange reason, I began wildly sobbing for the first half hour. John Turturro evoked some repressed depression or something and I thought it was such a tragic film.

I'd have more if I wasn't so nervous but those come to immediate mind. Again, love your films and I will continue to follow your line of work with an ever-watchful eye.

NicolasRefn44 karma

1) I will be taking my 10 year old daughter to see it next week 2) I was young 3) its always good to feel failure in order to feel success

Calamity5821 karma

Mr. Refn, thank you very much for posting! I am a big fan of your films, particularly Valhalla Rising. Some questions:

  1. Which of your peers, locally or internationally, do you admire the most? Who gets on your nerves the most?

  2. Your film Drive garnered a massive following with the help of social media. Do you think this has helped or hindered the intrisic themes of the film?

  3. Your films often vacillate between strong realities and strange, ethereal fantasies, but always display strong story-telling. What books/films/life events do you think have the biggest impact on your own work?

  4. I have heard that you have a form of color blindness. Is this is true, how has this affected the way you work with others on the set, such as grips, gaffers, and your DP? Is it a barrier or can it function to add a new degree of creativity to your work?

  5. How do you prepare actors for their roles? Some roles, such as One-eye and The Driver seem to require an intense focus. Did Mads or Ryan ever have trouble getting into the role?

  6. Last and very certainly least. You have a rather cotroversial countryman named Lars Von Trier. What do you think of him and his work?

Thanks again! Can't wait to see Only God Forgives later this week!

NicolasRefn44 karma

  1. good question. I would say that in an odd way, creativity is about turning your weaknesses into strengths

TheRealDanP20 karma

What's your favorite TV show?

NicolasRefn109 karma

of all time "The Prisoner," right now it's "Breaking Bad". Time to sign off, hope you enjoyed. thanks to all Redditors for joining in!

Lazeeboy200320 karma

I wanted to let you know that your film "Drive" is the film by which I judge new friends' taste in movies. Bronson was excellent as well, I'm trying to work my way through your catalog of works, but Neflix isn't cooperating! :/

1) Do you feel proud to be part of Tom Hardy's big break? Before Bronson, he was known (or not known, if you will) as "that one nobody bad guy in that terrible Star Trek movie".

2) Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, and even Albert Brooks (in one of my favorite "Holy Shit" roles) in one film. What was it like working with such a diverse and talented cast?

3) Being a European director, what are some things about American (or Hollywood) culture that surprised you? What are your favorite and least favorite things about America?

4) As a director who now has a good following of fans, what was the hardest part of "coming up the ranks"?

Thank you for doing this AMA, I'm a huge fan of yours and hope to enjoy more of your work! Here's wishing more commercial success comes your way. Cheers!

NicolasRefn38 karma

1) yes, sure 4)persuading financiers to give you their money and then getting distributors to release your movies

LivingLeper19 karma


NicolasRefn51 karma

1) ?

leumas1916 karma

First off, I wanna say that I love and admire all of your work Mr. Refn. Now I know your movies have a reputation for at times being extremely violent, and at other times for being extremely soft and subtle. My question for you is, is this style and tone of your movies trying to elicit a specific response from the audience, or do you simply do what you love and not care how the audience responds to it?

NicolasRefn29 karma

I do it out of love for the audience

dayumafrica116 karma

You're being asked for a lot of advice... Any advice you've been given that sticks with you?

NicolasRefn53 karma

the best I can say is what Elia Kazan told me when I was young, which was 'do it your way'

lt_kangaroo16 karma


NicolasRefn36 karma

I don't know how to answser that I like them equally

krp3148916 karma

Nicholas, this question isn't geared specifically for you, but I couldn't think of anything better and I've wanted to ask this of a filmmaker for awhile. I'm from Chicago, but am always dismayed at the lack of films that take place there, while countless films take place in New York and L.A. Off the top of your head if you had to suddenly make a film that took place in Chicago what would it be about?

NicolasRefn42 karma

I would say it would start with your streets

thewayofdan10 karma

What would you rather fight; a hundred duck sized Ryan Goslings or one Ryan Gosling sized duck?

NicolasRefn27 karma

I'm a lover, not a fighter

tippetto9 karma

Hi there. Just curious to know your approach regarding directing actors. Is most of the work done during discussions or rehearsals with the actors before shooting begins, or does most of the work come into play on set? Or is it a fine balance between both? Thanks in advance, you're films are incredibly inspiring.

NicolasRefn16 karma

its a combination, it never stops until its all over

Hisxlnc9 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA! I was entranced by Drive.

I read a film study of Drive that posited that you used different color schemes to signify different characters in the movie, and blended them depending on the situation or sequence. Is that true? If so, how literal did you intend it to be?

NicolasRefn12 karma


mbsibs9 karma

Describe Your Man Crush on Ryan Gosling in One Sentence or Less.

NicolasRefn44 karma

I believe it is the other way around

TheBigVitus9 karma

I love the Pusher films, Drive and Bronson. (Haven't seen Valhalla Rising yet, sorry.)

Is only god forgives in any way inspired by the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Kickboxer? I like to see it as a dark and gritty re-imagining of Kickboxer. Most people disagree.

NicolasRefn15 karma

how could it not be??

dannyisyr8 karma

Was the main character really originally going to be abducted by aliens at the end of 'Valhalla Rising'?

NicolasRefn19 karma

I toyed with the idea

twelvesixtwelve8 karma

Do you believe in God, Valhalla, or something different?

NicolasRefn38 karma

I am a man of faith

Blue_Man_7 karma

Drive is probably my favourite film of all time, so good that I bought a replica of the Driver's jacket but when it arrived it was pink . . . anyway, how much influence did you have on the design of the jacket and did you realize that it was going to become the iconic symbol of the film?

NicolasRefn12 karma

I wanted Ryan to wear a white satin jacket, reminded me of my youth

sauce076 karma

What's the most head scratching studio note you've received?

NicolasRefn23 karma

I can't reveal that or I would be assassinated

MagicNachos5 karma

How close is your final edit to to the script? I.e. do you tend to new ideas for pacing and seen organization in post?

NicolasRefn15 karma

usually quite different

dropoutfilms5 karma

Have you got your drivers license yet?

NicolasRefn11 karma

nope, and I never will

FraLey2 karma

Why do you keep choosing Ryan Gosling for your movies? Is it because or in spite of his cute, juvenile face?

NicolasRefn8 karma

his hands look great on cinema