I reported this back to Alan, who mentioned he had several screeners to choose from and that he'd move one featuring Gosling to the top of his list. Soon enough, Alan sent me the following email with his thoughts on DRIVE and Ryan Gosling's potential to be the next McQueen. With his permission, I'm reprinting it here.
I loved DRIVE’s trips down my memory lane.
In BULLITT, we were pushing mass audience taste by blasting two victims with a sawed-off shotgun onscreen, which we didn’t think anyone had ever done before. DRIVE pushes that limit to the edge and beyond with its deliberate onscreen savage butchery. Fortunately we were watching the DRIVE Academy screener so when my wife felt sick, she up and left.
Question: Will the audience segment with that sort of taste require it of Gosling movies in the future? Will they be disappointed if it isn’t there? And if it is there, what will it do to Gosling’s appeal?
We thought our BULLITT car chase would be the car chase to end all such chases. Peter Yates bettered his ROBBERY camera-on-the-following-bumper shots, the San Francisco hills were glorious, and my soaring hubcap and ebb-and-flow of tension sequences were kept by Academy Award winning editor Frank Keller. We never dreamed that we were setting a requirement for action flics and that the chase would be copied a hundred times, often in the very same locations. I thought the DRIVE chase was pretty damn good, but L.A. at night can’t match San Francisco by day, and the DRIVE chase fails to match the BULLITT ebb-and-flow of tension standard.
Another Gosling question: Can he be the new McQueen? The physical resemblance is striking, but nobody has told him to study the facial expressions of Bogart and McQueen and no one has given him the character mantra he needs to say to himself before he shoots each and every scene so that he never seems unsure and lost and the mass audience will see him as a star they love and not just a sexy lookalike wannabe.
Good luck, Ryan Gosling.