After stunning audiences and critics with their 2011 film Drive, actor Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn are at it again with their second film together, Only God Forgives. Though not as well received as their first collaboration, the film is still turning heads with its brutal depiction of violence, its striking visuals and some truly inspired direction from the Danish filmmaker.
Only God Forgives tells the story of Julian (Ryan Gosling), an American expatriate living in Bangkok who runs a boxing club that acts as a front for his drug smuggling operation. One night, his brother Billy is brutally murdered and Julian’s mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), demands that they take revenge by finding the man responsible for executing Billy.
This week in NYC, Refn, Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Yaya-Ying and Vithaya Pansringarm appeared at the Mandarin Oriental hotel to hold a press conference for the film. Though we had the chance to speak 1 on 1 with Refn a few hours before, we were also lucky enough to sit in on the press conference as well and hear what the cast had to say about the film.
Over the course of a half hour or so, Refn and his cast spoke about filming in Thailand, the dark humor present in the film, why Ryan and Nicolas work so well together and much, much more.
Check it out below and enjoy!
Ryan, you stepped in at the last minute to replace Luke Evans when he went to do The Hobbit. I was just wondering, did you have much input into the character of Julian. Also, the film has a bit of a reputation of dividing people, they either love it or they hate it. Is there anything that you would want to say to your fans about what to expect?
Ryan Gosling: Can we start off a little easier? [laughs] There was a lot there…
Can you talk about stepping into the role and whether or not you had an imprint?
Ryan Gosling: I mean, I think that’s what is so great about working with Nicolas [Winding Refn]. He involves everyone, so there’s a lot of input from everybody involved. He’s very interested in what everyone thinks. I was happy to get the chance to go and do this film with him. I obviously had a great experience on Drive and after that film Nicolas and I both had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things you know, a lot of big films. But still, Nic was opting to go to Thailand and make this very challenging film, financially and for other reasons.
And it was always going to be something that was sure to divide people, but I wanted to be a part of it. I feel like the film is like a drug, you either have a good trip or a bad trip.
Since you’ve already played a similar character in Drive, was it easier to craft the character of Julian in this film? Generally, this would be a tough role to play since you can’t speak much but having already worked with Nicolas on a similar character, did it come any easier to you?
Ryan Gosling: Ya, obviously we had history and this type of role takes a lot of trust, so that helped. Nicolas works chronologically so you’re not really sure of the film you’re making and neither is he. [laughs] You just sort of go along for the ride though. This film was different than Drive. Both films have a lot of silence but in Drive I was the Driver and in this film, I’m more of a vehicle for the audience. This film is more about the experience than the story. So in that sense, I did feel a difference between the two roles.
Kristin, you’re almost unrecognizable in this film. Can you talk about how you created the look of this character and what inspired you?
Kristin Scott Thomas: I did a photo shoot about a year before we started discussing the character. I had dressed up in a similar type of outfit and I was amazed by people’s reaction to me and how the atmosphere around me changed completely. Men especially became incredibly aggressive and woman cowered and were kind of nervous. I felt really uncomfortable. It seemed to be a really great way into the character, to just be dressed for battle like that. It was a way for me to get into the character. I felt very distant about Crystal, especially since she’s American. When she was English, I at least felt some relationship to her but when Ryan came on board and Nicolas made her American, that was gone.
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