TORONTO – Have you gone for a “Drive” yet? Nicolas Winding Refn’s critically acclaimed thriller finally debuted on Friday and if you haven’t seen it already, what are you waiting for? The film’s stylistic flourishes aside, one of the most impressive aspects of “Drive” is its ensemble cast. Sure, the story is the Driver’s (Ryan Gosling), but Refn and screenwriter Hossein Amini have made sure the other characters from James Sallis’ novel aren’t slighted. That means memorable turns from veterans such as Albert Brooks, Ron Pearlman, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston.
Cranston checks in as Shannon, an auto shop owner and part-time vehicle stunt coordinator for Hollywood who has plucked the Driver (we never find out his real name) from his mysterious past and given him some direction in his life. Like all the characters in “Drive,” however, Shannon is deeply flawed and a schemer looking for that big cash payout. When he sets up a deal with second rate crime boss Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and the Driver, you know it just won’t end well.
Speaking to Cranston in Toronto last week, he didn’t seem to have a lot of sympathy for his character. In the film, Shannon seems to encourage his employee to dabble in a romance with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). And yet, Cranston point blank remarks that Shannon just sees the Driver and his obvious skills as a meal ticket. The “Breaking Bad” star also discussed how he worked with Refn, Amini and the cast to actually make Shannon “more talkative” around the increasingly silent and stoic Driver (an actor’s dream, more lines). You can view our discussion about “Drive” in the big embed at the top of this post.
On a side note, having spoken over the past two weeks to both George Clooney and Grant Heslov about their producing duties on Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” I asked Cranston if he could comment about the Iran Hostage Crisis – set thriller. Cranston reveals he plays a CIA Agent in the picture and while the true story finds the agency using the unlikely cover of a fake Canadian movie production of “Jason and the Argonauts” in Tehran to rescue a group of trapped Americans, he made it clear Affleck is going with a very serious tone for the picture. Find out more on Cranston’s thoughts on Argo in the video embed below.
“Drive” is now playing nationwide. Don’t miss it.
Have you seen “Drive” yet? Share your thoughts below.
For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.