Lee Pace likes playing morally corrupt geniuses. He did it for four seasons on AMC’s tech-centric Halt and Catch Fire, and he’s filling those shoes once again in Nick Hamm’s Driven, a high-octane drama starring Jason Sudeikis as an FBI informant and Pace as infamous automaker John DeLorean. The story of DeLorean’s downfall – he was involved in a $20 million cocaine deal set up by the feds in the early ’80s around the time his motor company was nearing bankruptcy – is almost too wild to be true, as is the story of how the film got made.
Uproxx chatted with Pace about weathering Hurricane Maria while filming, his return to the MCU, a Pushing Daisies revival, and why he’s determined to sport a fake chin on screen just once.
You guys were filming this movie in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit. What was that experience like, coming back and trying to get this thing done?
Yeah, that really changed the tone. Suddenly the real challenge of making that movie was not playing this character that was very different from myself, but just getting to set every day because Hurricane Maria just caused so much destruction. When we evacuated the island and came back home, I was convinced that we weren’t going to make it back. I just thought there was no way possible [but] Nick Hamm, our director, has a relentless John DeLorean sense of magical thinking in him. There was no way we were going to not finish this film.
I do think a big part of the reason why John DeLorean fought so hard to keep that car in production was that he felt responsible for all the workers in Belfast who were manufacturing that car and he knew that they depended on those jobs. So, he was trying to keep that project going as long as he possibly could. He would not say die. I admire a point of view like that. I do. It’s a little insane, but it’s pretty incredible. I look at the movie Nick has made, and I really do see that spirit inside the movie.
Some people look at DeLorean as an innovator, some people see him as a criminal. What do you make of his legacy?
I think he’s someone who just flew too close to the sun. It makes me sad that this coke scandal is a big part of how he’s remembered because I think that there’s so much more to him than that. The thing he tried to accomplish with the DeLorean he did twice before to good success. He’d created the GTO and the Firebird, and I believe if he would have made the DeLorean the way he had in mind, it would be a car that we would see all over the road today. He had to make so many compromises to get the car into production and make the car hit the market and it’s just one compromise after the next until you find yourself involved in a coke deal.
Right, because that’s the natural progression.
I think that’s how innovators think. That’s definitely an idea that I worked on with Halt and Catch Fire, this character I played, Joe McMillan. There are certain kinds of magical thinking that, yeah, it probably drives practical-minded people insane, but it’s how you take those leaps forward [when you’re] someone like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk or John DeLorean. Sometimes you win it, and sometimes you lose it. It’s a way of thinking that I find extraordinary.
Speaking of bad guys, have you heard anything about bringing Ronan back for a Captain Marvel sequel?
Not that I’ve heard right now, but I would always love to go back. I had such a great time playing that character and being a part of MCU.
You don’t mind the makeup?
Look, I’m always wearing crazy makeup and wigs. I can’t avoid it. I like it.
You definitely wore some statement-making fashion in this film.
There was a moment when I was going to have a fake chin too because when Nick was talking to me about playing the character. I was like, ‘There’s no way. I don’t look anything like him. I’m 20 years too young. I think I’m going to need a fake chin,’ because DeLorean famously had a chin implant in the early 80s. We tried it and the reason we cut it is that it looked ridiculous. I’ve got pictures of it on my phone. I looked like one of those villains in the Wacky Races Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I’ll keep trying. I’ve had fake ears, I’ve had fake eyebrows. I’m going to get that fake chin before the sun goes down on me.
How serious are the talks between you and Bryan Fuller when it comes to a Pushing Daisies revival because I know there have been talks?
I mean every time we get together; we talk about how fun it would be to get the gang back together. It was such an incredible group of people and Bryan had a really great idea. He has a brilliant mind. He’s got so many fun ideas. I certainly think from the number of times I’m asked about whether we’re coming back, that there would be an audience for it. So, we’ll see.
Is there a story you’d like to explore if a movie or a mini-series actually happened?
I can’t imagine Ned out of Coeur de Coeur. Ned belongs in his pie shop. I guess he could get a pie truck and hit the road. I do like the idea of the Pie Hole on wheels. I think we’re really onto something there.