Driven Interview: We Talk John DeLorean With Director Nick Hamm

Ecto-1, KITT, the Batmobile… these are a few of the incredibly famous vehicles from film and television. Each one is instantly recognizable and elicits memories and feelings connected tot he properties they come from. However, there is one that is by far the most beloved and mythical of all Hollywood rides… the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future. As interesting as the car is, its creator, John DeLorean, is much more interesting. The story of the former General Motors executive involves dirty money, shifty associates, the FBI, and cocaine. Sound larger than life? It is.

Driven, directed by Nick Hamm, takes us on the exciting journey of the most infamous time in John DeLorean’s life. LRM Online had the distinct privilege of speaking with the film’s director and received some insight behind the thrilling film, which is set to hit Digital and On Demand on August 16.

LRM Online: Thank you one more time so much for being a part of this. I want to start off by saying how much I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I am a big car guy.

Nick Hamm: Nice

LRM: I want to know what drew you to this project?

Hamm: I think if you, as I find a project that deals with themes of ambition and the idea of kind of creative force, and try to find something that. You know, I thought in many respects, DeLorean was a kind of wonderful inventor, but never had the ability to sustain what he invented, And I think that was kind of his downfall I think. You know, and I think there is a separation between ideas and the ability to actualize the ideas. And that is what is fascinated me about him, but also the way into him was through that character, Paul Hoffman, who you know was an absolute sleaze bag, kind of a low-level scum really, who kind of spent his life working undercover for the FBI you know. So that the interaction, I guess, between those two was what fascinated me about the story.

LRM: Very interesting. Did the fact of the DeLorean history there in Northern Ireland, did that have any play in your interest?

Hamm: Yeah, I grew up in Belfast. I knew about DeLorean and the factory and the folklore, I guess, of how that all worked in Ireland. And to him, in some respects in Northern Ireland, he’s kind of a mythic figure. You know there is some folklore about him and how he operated and all the rest of it. So, you know, you’re always aware of the story, but I think the worst way of telling the story would be to a bio-pic, or you know, kind of you know I think sometimes documentaries get really tedious, as well. Because I think, they don’t, you can sort of read that stuff and bio-pics are very hard to do. Because if you were actually saying you are going to do a biopic or something, you have to be trusted, you have to be honest. In other words, you can’t say dramatically that someone did something if he didn’t, if you are saying this is that person’s life. But if you are not doing that and you are doing the relationship between that person and Jim Hoffman in this case, you know, you are then having an unreliable narrator that is telling this stuff.

LRM: I absolutely love how this movie approaches the story. You are right. It is so easy to take things from John’s point of view, and you guys didn’t do that. You went with Hoffman, with Jim. And I wanted to know were there any challenges letting Jim bring this story to life?

Hamm: Well I think that was kind of the point really. You sort of, by telling the story through his lens, you kind of are being told the story by someone that is a liar and a cheat, so you also have this perspective where you kinda went, okay whoa, am I watching what really happened or am I watching what he said happened. And so that gives you freedom as a dramatist, in some ways, because you can fictionalize situations. And I think that’s kind of where we ended up in the movie really. In that same kind of area of being able to entertain as much as give a kind of weave a story between moments of truth. Now in answer to your question of should DeLorean dominate it. If DeLorean had dominated it, it wouldn’t be the same picture. You know, you see it, I see it as a story about to mend and almost like an old fashioned buddy movie in a way. Using the DeLorean device to anchor it. But I am not pretending to tell the DeLorean story. That is not what I was doing.

LRM: The movie has a lot of humor, especially towards the beginning parts of it, maybe the first two acts, before you get really, really serious once John asks Jim to help him. Balancing humor and seriousness, how did you approach that?

Hamm: Well, it’s kinda, you know, it’s the most, I always find it the most tricky thing to do. But I also think if you can pull this off, it’s really beneficial for an audience. Because they can enjoy the process. And you’re not whacking them over the head with huge emotional crisis all the time and you know, you are allowing an audience into a story through humor is always the best way to tell any, for me anyway, I mean you know people can tell it completely differently if they want. For me, I like the idea of bouncing it. And it’s quite tricky, but we kind of liked Jason (Sudeikis), who at the center of everything, as you can imagine, his comic ability is supreme. So he is one of those actor’s who can play a serious moment and then wink at the end of the moment and make you realize that you can laugh. So I think it’s all about casting, I suppose, in the end. These things are always about casting. I think pretty much every decent movie which is based on actors, is always about casting.

LRM: Very good point about Jason. He is a wonderful comedic actor and you had quite a cast on your hands. A couple of Marvel stars in there and Jason himself, of course. What was it like working with your cast? I mean, these are some pretty big names and some very capable actors on your hand.

Hamm: What every director always said is that it’s always wonderful working with actors and these normal platitudes about the relationship between actors and directors, you know in many respects, in this case, it’s completely true. You know this is a really creative bunch of actors who from day one sort of lept in and contributed and no one held back. You know if you’ve got Judy on set with Jason, and Jason on set with Lee, you know, you have a very lively world in front of you. And that is just fantastic for a director, to work with that energy and, you know people that bring, that bring something to the table every day. You know, they don’t just walk on and say, you know, they are there. And that’s great. That to me is great. Once you have that and we rehearsed and worked on the scenes. You know, so for about a month beforehand, we worked on all the material. And then when you put it in front of the camera, you know, you are already advanced. So, and then I think that is kinda, if you have that, I don’t know, feeling or some sort of kind of power with the actors, and the actors can feel that in the scene with each other, and dramatized moments with each other, and you are going to end up with something quite strong.

LRM: I agree. I tell you what. That stare at Jim while he is on the stand, when you finally see DeLorean in the courtroom, that was really good mean mug right there. I really enjoyed that part. I was like he is selling it.

Hamm: Yeah, yeah. It’s a good moment.

LRM: Thank you so much for giving LRM Online a few moments of your time. It was a wonderful movie.

Hamm: My pleasure.

Be sure to check out Driven in theaters and on digital/demand August 16th!

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