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[Interview] ‘The Neon Demon’ Director Nicolas Winding Refn on Making a Horror Film for Women

The Neon Demon | via Amazon Studios

The Neon Demon, the latest film from controversial writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives), will be released theatrically on June 24th. Bloody Disgusting had a chance to speak with Refn about the film and why he has decided to make the switch from a hypermasculine (or somewhat homoerotic, in the case of Drive) focus to that of women in The Neon Demon.

Refn’s filmography spans 20 years. His first film, 1996’s Pusher, told the story of a drug dealer in the seedy underground of Denmark. Next up was Bleeder which follows two male friends whose friendship takes a turn for the worse. His first English-language film, Fear X, follows John Turturro’s security guard character has he tries to solve the mystery behind his wife’s murder. Refn’s would make two sequels to Pusher before moving on to the Tom Hardy-starring biopic Bronson.  That was followed by Valhalla Rising, the critically acclaimed Drive and the not-so-critically-acclaimed Only God Forgives. 

Now Refn comes to us with The Neon Demon (read my review), his first female-centric horror film that chronicles the dog-eat-dog fashion world of Los Angeles. After looking at his 20-year career, The Neon Demon seems like a puzzling addition to his filmography. “I guess it was time to do it,” Refn states about why he decided to focus on women for his latest film. That’s about as good an answer as we will get, but it makes sense. After twenty years of writing men, Refn felt that he owed something to the women of the world.

[Related] We Visited the Set of Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon

Helping matters were his wife, actress Liv Corfixen, and his two daughters. Not that the soulless vixens (portrayed by Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee and Jena Malone) in The Neon Demon were inspired by his family, whom Refn has nothing but flattering things to say about. “I don’t know if it’s inspiration,” he said. “The basis for the idea [of the film] came one morning when I woke up and was like ‘You know what? I wasn’t born beautiful, but my wife is and I wonder what that would be like.” It’s a simple jumping-off point for the film, but it works. Refn’s slight jab at his own appearance makes the man even more endearing.

The screenplay is credited to Refn, Mary Laws and Polly Stenham, so he had help from two sets of female eyes while co-writing the script. “I find anything with women to be more interesting,” Refn said when asked if he found women easier to write than men. “There is so much more to work with when it comes to women as opposed to men.”

As I received the signal that I needed to wrap up the interview, I panicked asked a question that I was personally curious about, but probably wasn’t incredibly necessary to ask. You see, I love Christina Hendricks and asked Refn if he ever intended to put her in more than two or three scenes in one of this films (she has three scenes in Drive and has one scene in The Neon Demon). To his Refn replied: “I’ve got a supernatural sense about her. I have to have her around me one way or another. She couldn’t come to Bangkok [for Only God Forgives], but I absolutely love Christina Hendricks. My wife and I think she should play Wonder Woman. I think she is the perfect woman.” So all you fellow Christina Hendricks lovers out there can rest easy. One day we’ll get a Nicolas Winding Refn film starring Christina Hendricks. Woo hoo!


3 Comments
  • lupe

    chauvinist. he acts like he’s doing a great service to women by finally writing about women. AND that weird kiss he gave Ms. Fanning. Ugh. He should stick to writing about men.

    • J Jett

      i have to admit the more i read on Refn (in his interviews) the more he overtly seems like a douche bag.

      • PsychoMantis18

        He is a massive twat.

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