By Junsui Films | September 2011
The acclaimed author of Drive talks exclusively to Junsui Films about his novel’s journey to the big screen…
Junsui Films: How did the film adaptation for ‘Drive’ first come about?
James Sallis: The book made its way, slouching towards producer Marc Platt, where it camped at his door until he let it in. The rest derives from Marc and co-producer Adam Siegel, who were determined that this movie be made.
JF: Did you ever have any desire to write the screenplay yourself?
I’d greatly prefer that it be written by someone who knows what he is doing. In this case, the astonishingly fine Hossein Amini (The Four Feathers). Having Hoss aboard was the first great squall in the perfect storm that created this movie.
JF: What were the main differences between Hossein Amini’s script and your original novel?
The novel – a slim novel, remember, and one that proceeded by association as much as by plot, one with a lot of space left – quite naturally had to be re-imagined for the screen. Doing so required a more linear, manifest story arc. But the book’s there – its heart, its soul.
JF: Can you tell us about your interactions with the director Nicolas Winding Refn?
We’ve only seen one another when he was working, initially shooting the movie, then fielding publicity requests at the L.A. premiere. I’ve immense respect for him as a director. It’s as though he glanced at the book and with that glance knew it intimately. He breathed in my novel and breathed out this stunning film.
JF: The film attracted a stellar cast including Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. How pleased were you with the film’s casting?
It was Ryan, with Marc Platt’s blessing, who brought Nicolas (Winding Refn) on. Then the perfect storm continued. There, for a while, every day it seemed another incredible actor was aboard. Carey Mulligan – you’re kidding! Christina Hendricks? Ron Perlman! Oscar Isaac? Bryan Cranston! A high point for me was the casting of Albert Brooks as the heavy – stone brilliant, I thought.
JF: How involved were you during the actual production of the film? Did you visit the set at all?
No involvement really. I wrote the novel. It grew up and went off to college and occasionally wrote home.
My wife Karyn and I visited the set one afternoon when they were filming in Reseda. We were treated rather royally – as we have been from beginning starting with Marc and Adam including my name so prominently on all press releases, culminating in Nic’s kind thank-you from the stage at the L.A. premiere.
JF: How did you feel the film turned out?
It is a breathtakingly fine film, one that will be talked about and referenced for years. One that may even influence for a time the way movies are made, and what movies get made. It’s that good. The script, the photography by Newton Thomas Sigel, Cliff Martinez’s score, every character – just absolutely right, absolutely there.
JF: Have you optioned any of your other books and are there any in particular you feel would make an ideal movie?
The six Lew Griffin books are in development with Parallel Entertainment. Death Will Have Your Eyes was optioned for some time but never made. I think the three Turner books (published together as What You Have Left: The Turner Trilogy) would be great onscreen, either as movies or a mini series.
JF: Any future plans you can tell us about?
I’m about halfway into a novel titled Driven. After that, it’s back to work on a book for which I have a full draft, Others of My Kind, about a woman who was abducted as a girl and kept in a box under her abductor’s bed, and who is now one of the world’s good people.
James Sallis’ Drive is published by No Exit Press & available to buy now.