Nicolas Winding Refn

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Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn Cannes 2013.jpg
Winding Refn at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Born(1970-09-29) 29 September 1970 (age 43)
Copenhagen, Denmark
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1996–present
Spouse(s)Liv Corfixen
Children2 (daughters)
 
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Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn Cannes 2013.jpg
Winding Refn at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Born(1970-09-29) 29 September 1970 (age 43)
Copenhagen, Denmark
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1996–present
Spouse(s)Liv Corfixen
Children2 (daughters)

Nicolas Winding Refn (born 29 September 1970) is a Danish film director, screenwriter and producer. He moved to the United States in 1978, and is known for directing the Pusher films (1996, 2004, 2005),[1]Drive (2011) and Only God Forgives (2013).

Early life[edit]

Winding Refn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and raised partly in New York, United States.[2] His parents are Danish film director and editor, Anders Refn, and cinematographer, Vibeke Winding.[3] His half-brother is Danish singer Kasper Winding.[4]

Winding Refn has cited viewing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as inspiration for his filmmaking career:

I grew up in a cinema family. My parents were brought up on the French New Wave. That was God to them, but to me it was the antichrist, and how better to rebel against your parents than by watching something your mother is going to hate, which were American horror movies. When I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I realized: I don't want to be a director, I don't want to be a writer, I don't want to be a producer, I don't want to be a photographer, I don't want to be an editor, I don't want to be a sound man. I want to be all of them at once. And that film proved that you can do it because that movie is not a normal movie.[5]

He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts but was expelled for throwing a table into a wall.[6]

Career[edit]

The Pusher trilogy[edit]

Winding Refn made his directorial debut with the Danish crime drama film Pusher (1996). The original film garnered a Best Supporting Actor Award at the 1997 Bodil Awards. Refn later made two sequels, Pusher II (2004) (aka Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands) and Pusher 3 (2005) (aka Pusher III: I'm The Angel of Death). For Pusher II, lead actor Mads Mikkelsen won a Best Actor at the 2005 Bodil Awards, Best Actor at the 2005 Robert Festival (where the film was also nominated for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Film, among other nominations) and Best Actor at the 2005 Zulu Awards. The film was remade into a British version in 2012, Pusher, directed by Luis Prieto and executive produced by Refn himself.

Bleeder[edit]

In 1999, Refn directed the crime-drama-thriller Bleeder (1999), which featured much of the same cast from the Pusher Trilogy, including actors such as Kim Bodnia and Mads Mikkelsen. Refn won the FIPRESCI prize for the film at the 2000 Sarajevo Film Festival, and the film also won Best Lighting at the Robert Festival, and was nominated for Best Film and Best Supporting Actress at the 2000 Bodil Awards, as well as for the Grand Prix Asturias for Best Feature at the 1999 Gijon International Film Festival.[citation needed]

Fear X[edit]

In 2003, Refn directed and wrote his first U.S.-based Hollywood film, Fear X, which starred John Turturro. Although being a commercial failure that bankrupted the film company (Jang Go Star) at the time, the film won an International Fantasy Film Award for Best Screenplay at the 2004 Fantasporto Film Festival, and was nominated for best actor awards (for Turturro) at the Bodil Awards and the Fangoria Awards, and best film awards at festivals including Sitges Film Festival and the Sochi International Film Festival..

Bronson[edit]

In 2008, Refn returned to the European art house film circuit after his unsuccessful Hollywood venture Fear X (his first Hollywood success would be Drive), and directed and wrote Bronson (2008), which starred Tom Hardy as the title character, the infamous real-life U.K. prisoner Charles Bronson. The film won Best Film at the 2009 Sydney Film Festival, and was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema - Dramatic) at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Hardy also won a Best Actor award at the 2009 British Independent Film Awards for his portrayal of Charles Bronson (and the film was also nominated for a Best Achievement in Production award as well). Hardy was also nominated for Best Actor from the Evening Standard British Film Awards and the London Critics Circle Film Awards.

Valhalla Rising[edit]

In 2009, Refn teamed up again with frequent collaborator Mads Mikkelsen to write and direct Valhalla Rising, a surrealistic period piece about the brutal Viking era. The film won an International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award and Special Mention at the 2010 Fantasporto Festival, and won the Titra Film Award for Refn at the 2010 Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival. The film also won a Best Make-Up award at the 2011 Robert Festival.

Drive[edit]

Winding Refn promoting Drive at the Deauville American Film Festival in September 2011.

In 2011, Winding Refn directed the American neo-noir crime drama Drive (2011). It premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where he received the Best Director Award.[7]

The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for "Best Sound Editing", for an Excellence in Production Design Award from the Art Directors Guild, won Best Director, Best Screenplay (for Hossein Amini) and Best Supporting Actor (for Albert Brooks) at the Austin Film Critics Awards, won Boston Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks) and Best Use of Music in a Film (by Cliff Martinez), the Critics Choice Award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Action Movie, Best Director, Best Picture and Breakthrough Film Artist at the Central Ohio Film Critics Association, Best Original Score (Cliff Martinez) and Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks) at the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks) at the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards, Best Foreign Film at the Fotogramas de Plata, Best Director from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, a Top Films Award from the National Board of Review, Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks) at the National Society of Film Critics Awards, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Best Director at the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.[citation needed]

Only God Forgives[edit]

The Bangkok-set crime thriller, starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, premiered in competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[8] The film was awarded the Sydney Film Prize at the 2013 Sydney Film Festival.[9]

I Walk With the Dead[edit]

A horror film. In September 2011, Winding Refn stated his next film after Only God Forgives will be I Walk With the Dead, with Drive cohort Carey Mulligan slated to play the lead.[10] According to Winding Refn, it will be a horror-movie sex thriller that may be set in Tokyo or Los Angeles.[11]

In 2013 Nicolas Winding Refn confirmed I Walk With the Dead as his next project.[12] In October 2013 playwright Polly Stenham was confirmed to write the screenplay with Refn. They stated that the film will have an all female cast. Refn admitted that he asked Stenham to write the screenplay to tackle his own perceived inability to write female characters.[13]

Adverts and short films[edit]

He directed an extended Gucci commercial featuring Blake Lively,[14] which premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. The short film is entitled Gucci Premiere. He also directed the music video for his frequent collaborator Peter Peter's band Bleeder, which featured his wife Liv Corfixen as a crazy nurse.

Future projects[edit]

In June 2010, Winding Refn stated his interest in directing a Wonder Woman movie with Christina Hendricks to play the titular character.[15]

In June 2012, Winding Refn was in talks to direct an adaptation of Button Man.[16]

Refn may produce (or direct, which is less likely) a prequel to the 80s cult film Maniac Cop.[17]

He will also direct a live action adaptation of Alejandro Jodorowsky's comic book series The Incal.[18]

Unrealized projects[edit]

In 2009, Winding Refn was attached to direct a modern retelling of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with Keanu Reeves playing the titular roles. The working title of the film was Jekyll. According to an interview with SciFi Wire, he wanted the film to take place "in modern America and use as much credible science as possible."[19] However in February 2010, Winding Refn dropped out of the project in order to work on Drive.[20]

In 2010, Winding Refn was attached to direct Paul Schrader's script The Dying of the Light with Harrison Ford as the lead.[21] However, in February 2010, Winding Refn exited the project. In September 2011 during promotion for Drive, he claimed that Ford did not want his character to die, causing the film production to fall apart.[22]

Channing Tatum, who was to co-star with Ford in The Dying of the Light, originally wanted Winding Refn to direct Magic Mike (2012), which Steven Soderbergh came to direct.[23]

In 2012, Refn was attached to direct a remake of the 1980s crime show The Equalizer with Denzel Washington in the lead role, but the deal did not materialize with Sony for unknown reasons.[24]

Directing style[edit]

Winding Refn has spoken about characterization in his films:

I've always liked characters that because of the circumstances, have to transform themselves, and in the end, it's inevitable that what they end up becoming is what they were meant to be. Take, for example, Pusher II, which is a movie about a son [played by Mads Mikkelsen] who all his life wants his father's love, but realizes he needs to kill him to free the sins of the father from him. What plants the seed for him is realizing he has his own child, and the responsibility of that suddenly forces him to take action. And it's a happy ending, even though it's a dark ending, but for the character, it is what he was meant to become. It's almost like he achieved his true meaning. And Drive is similar in the sense that The Driver was meant to become a superhero, and he's denied all these things—relationships, companionship. And why would he be denied that? It was because he was meant for something greater.[25]

Winding Refn prefers to shoot his films in chronological order: "I read that [director John Cassavetes] had done it on some of his films, so I thought, 'That's a pretty cool approach.' And after I did it on my first movie, I felt, 'How can you do a movie any other way?' It's like a painting—you paint the movie as you go along, and I like the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how it's going to turn out."[5] Winding Refn spoke more about shooting in chronological order in September 2011, in reference to Drive:

It's always difficult with production. All my films previous to Drive had been shot in what I call 100-percent almost-chronological order. Where Drive is like 80 percent. The reason why it didn't go 100 was that I just simply couldn't afford the last remaining pieces. I could afford what I call "the emotional chronological order". So nobody would die or leave the movie in the middle of their shooting schedule. It would always be the end. So there was a build-up as much as possible.[25]

On his approach to working with actors, Winding Refn has said:

I think the first thing I ask any actor is what they would like to do, which sometimes can frighten people or can be looked upon as, 'Oh, you don't know what you want.' But I try to draw the actor in—to force them in, in some cases, because a lot of actors don't want to discuss things or go in deep; they just want to come and do the work, play their part and walk away. But for me, it doesn't work like that. You've got to get absorbed and dirty, and a way to do that is to ask the actor what they would like to do. It also forces them to be more truthful.[5]

Winding Refn's color blindness has influenced his style: "I can't see mid-colors. That's why all my films are very contrasted, if it were anything else I couldn't see it."[6]

Jodorowsky's Influence:

I had been seeing Jodorowsky the last couple years in Paris and we’d become quite close. Before we’d have dinner, we’d always have a tarot reading and talk about what it means. I feel that as a filmmaker, he’s the last of the great giants of an era that’s coming to a close. A year ago, he baptized me as his spiritual son and I wanted to reward that gesture.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Winding Refn is married to actress Liv Corfixen,[27] with whom he has two daughters.[28]

After making the movie Fear X, Refn was heavily in debt. The story of Refn's recovery is recorded in the documentary Gambler, directed by Phie Ambo.[29]

After Lars von Trier's controversial remarks on the 2011 Cannes Film festival, Winding Refn apologised for Trier's behaviour on the behalf of Denmark.[30]

Filmography[edit]

YearFilmFunctioned asNotes
DirectorWriterProducerActorRole
1996PusherYesYesYesBrian
1999BleederYesYesYes
2003Fear XYesYes
2004Pusher IIYesYes
2005Pusher IIIYesYes
2005KinamandYesLægen
2008BronsonYesYes
2009Agatha Christie's Marple: NemesisYesTV Movie
2009Valhalla RisingYesYes
2011DriveYes
2013Only God ForgivesYesYes

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ethan Alter (2012). "THE PUSHER TRILOGY". Film Journal International. Film Journal International. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Lim Dennis (October 01, 2009). "Looking at an Inmate, Seeing an Artist". The New York Times, accessed October 07, 2011.
  3. ^ McDonagh, Maitland (August 24, 2011). "Drive into darkness: Nicolas Winding Refn takes the wheel for Cannes award-winning action drama". Film Journal International, accessed September 30, 2011.
  4. ^ Chilton, Martin and Florence Waters (May 19, 2011). "Cannes Film Festival 2011: live". The Daily Telegraph, accessed September 30, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Foundas, Scott (Summer 2012). "Anger Management". DGA Quarterly. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Smith, Julia (September 12, 2011). "Nicolas Winding Refn, Director of "Drive": Interview on The Sound of Young America". Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ Festival de Cannes (2011). "OFFICIAL SELECTION 2011". Festival de Cannes. Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "SFF 2013 Official Competition winner". Sydney Film Festival. 16 June 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Chitwood, Adam. "Carey Mulligan to Star in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Sex Film I WALK WITH THE DEAD". Collider. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin. "Nicolas Winding Refn Talks Making 'Only God Forgives' & Considers Tokyo Setting For Horror 'I Walk With The Dead'". IndieWire. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  12. ^ Collider.com
  13. ^ Standard.co.uk
  14. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin. "Watch: Nicolas Winding Refn Directed Gucci Premiere Ad Starring Blake Lively". IndieWire. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  15. ^ Anderton, Eric. "'Logan's Run' Success May Get Nicolas Winding Refn 'Wonder Woman'". FirstShowing. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  16. ^ Browne, Niall. "Nicolas Winding Refn In Talks to Direct ‘Button Man’". ScreenRant. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Screenrant, Nucholas Winding Refn and Maniac Cop Prequel, Screenrant.com
  18. ^ Screenrant.com
  19. ^ Fischer, Russ. "Nicolas Winding Refn Talks Valhalla Rising and Jekyll". /Film. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Fischer, Russ. "Nicolas Winding Refn Off Both Jekyll and The Dying of the Light". /Film. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  21. ^ Dang, Simon. "Harrison Ford To Lead Nicolas Winding Refn's The Dying of the Light'?". The Playlist. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  22. ^ Everett, Cory. "Nicolas Winding Refn Says 'Dying Of The Light' Fell Apart Because Harrison Ford Didn't Want To Die". Indiewire. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  23. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin. "Nicolas Winding Refn Was Originally In Talks To Direct 'Magic Mike'; Steven Soderbergh Has No Desire To Make Another "Important Movie"". Indiewire. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  24. ^ Goldberg, Matt. "Exclusive: Nicolas Winding Refn Will Not Direct THE EQUALIZER; Sony Looking for Other Directors to Begin Shooting in May". Collider. 
  25. ^ a b Tobias, Scott (September 15, 2011). "Nicolas Winding Refn". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  26. ^ Hill, Logan (2013-05-16). "Nicholas Winding Refn on Being One With Ryan Gosling". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ Mottram, James (September 11, 2011). "Nicolas Winding Refn: 'When the chance came, I stuck the knife into Lars von Trier'". The Independent. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  28. ^ Shoard, Catherine (September 8, 2011). "Nicolas Winding Refn: 'Film-making is a fetish'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Gambler". Sneersnipe.co.uk. 2006. 
  30. ^ YouTube

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