Ryan Gosling and Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn met over a bad "first date" in Los Angeles but wound up in a lasting relationship for an action-packed crime tale that premiered Friday at the Cannes Film Festival.
"Drive" is the result of that meeting, at which Gosling recalled conferring with Refn about the film while the director sat disinterested for a couple of hours. Gosling found out later that Refn had the flu and was drugged up on medicine.
"It was like a date that was going horribly wrong. We have to get out of this. This is awful. I feel terrible about myself, terrible about him. I just feel terrible," Gosling recalled at a press conference, laughing alongside Refn. "So he said, 'Can you take me home?' Basically, like, you know, you're not going to get any action, so let's call it.
"And we got in the car, and it was that awkward drive home when you don't what to say to each other. So I just kind of turned up the music."
REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" came on, and after a moment, Refn started singing along at the top of his lungs, Gosling said.
"And he said, "I got it. This is the movie,'" Gosling said. "'The movie is about a man who drives around Los Angeles at night listening to pop music.'"
"Drive" stars Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver moonlighting as a wheel man for crooks who need a quick getaway. His tightlipped character falls for a neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and becomes a protector for her family, a task that hurls him into a heist gone bad, with increasingly bloody consequences.
The cast includes Albert Brooks in a memorable role as a vicious, gabby crook, along with Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Oscar Isaac.
Refn, whose films include the "Pusher" trilogy, "Bronson" and "Valhalla Rising," said that because of his illness, he simply was not up for that first meeting with Gosling, the script seeming hazy and "something about a car" one of the few things that resonated with him.
The meeting came off like a blind date between two heterosexual men, Refn said.
"So when I asked him to take me home, I felt like the girl who wasn't going to put out. And we were sitting in the car, and it was kind of surreal, and as Ryan said, this song came on," Refn said. "I thought, this is it. Everything just feels right about doing this."