VOD Spotlight: Ryan Gosling takes an action-packed “Drive”

It’s no exaggeration to say that Ryan Gosling has hit the A-list in Hollywood, not only among fans but with critics — earning a Golden Globe nomination for The Ides of March and dual nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Acting Ensemble (for Ides) and Best Actor (for Drive). With Drive, he was signed first and picked a director whose work he admired, Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson), who has garnered a number of award nominations for his work on Drive.

That an adrenaline-charged thriller like Drive, about a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for robbers, should be so critically acclaimed is testament to the talent that went into its making.

Based on a 2005 crime novel of the same name, Drive had an odd metamorphosis on its way to the screen. It was originally intended to star Hugh Jackman and be directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent). When Gosling signed on and asked for Refn to direct, the pair decided the film should be less about action — though there is plenty of that in the chase scenes — and more about Driver (he’s never given a name other than that) and the dual life he leads. Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and Ron Perlman are also in the stellar cast.

The film was originally intended to be a blockbuster, but under Refn’s guidance it became a low-budget ($13 million) independent film instead. Released at Cannes, it received a standing ovation and earned Refn a Best Director award. The film has also gotten several other wins and nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

During production, Refn moved into a Los Angeles home and insisted that the cast and screenwriter move in with him; days and nights became part of the filmmaking process. Gosling, who completed a stunt car driving course, did a number of his own stunts and helped to rebuild the 1973 Chevy Malibu that his character drives in the film.

Oddly enough, Refn has no interest in driving. He does not have a driver’s license — thankfully, since he has failed driving tests eight times.

“Drive” is available starting Jan. 31 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.

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