From John Ford and John Wayne, to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, to Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, there have been many great actor-director teams. Very quietly, a new one could be budding right before our eyes.
EW has confirmed that Ryan Gosling is negotiating to star in Only God Forgives, a crime thriller set in Bangkok and the third movie he and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn plan to make together. (Variety first reported the story.) The only problem is that few people have seen a single film the pair has made. More specifically, most moviegoers in the U.S. haven’t seen any of Refn’s work yet. But with the news of the casting and the critical buzz around their first collaboration, Drive, picked up this May at Cannes, there might be some magic brewing between the two artists.
Anyone familiar with Refn’s work will tell you his style is hard to forget. Refn made a name for himself in Europe with the Pusher films, a gritty crime trilogy that boosted the career of future Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen. With 2009’s Bronson and 2010’s Valhalla Rising, he established a small following Stateside for his dark, stylistic and often bizarre films. Bronson found some critical success, but, more importantly, it established its lead, a barely-recognizable Tom Hardy, as someone to watch, and arguably led to his star-making turn in Inception.
Gosling has been particular in the past with the material he chooses — he parted ways with Peter Jackson because he had very different ideas for the character ultimately played by Mark Wahlberg in The Lovely Bones — so working consistently with the same director speaks to the work he and Refn have done so far. Drive, the violent story of a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a wheelman for heists, seems poised to score with audiences this September. Critics at Cannes generally considered it one of the more exhilarating high points of the festival, comparing it to the early films of Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. Refn walked away with a best director award. Gosling aside, Drive has no shortage of star power, touting a supporting cast featuring Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks. Even with its art-house credentials, the film could break-out at the box office.
Aside from Drive and Only God Forgives, Gosling and Refn have also started developing a remake of the 1976 cult hit, Logan’s Run, after the director recommended his star watch it on the set of Drive. It is still in early development at Warner Bros. and more of a long-term project for the duo. With potentially three consecutive movies in the pipeline, audiences and critics will have to wait until Sept. 16 when Drive hits theaters to see if there is something to this newest actor-director combo. Will we have a new Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro on our hands?