Interview with Nicolas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning for THE NEON DEMON

Last Saturday at the Grand Love Hotel, we were able to meet Nicolas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning to the output of THE NEON DEMON (our critique HERE).

We interviewed the duo very glam in the company of our colleagues Philippe Guedj (Pop) and Thomas Périllon (The Blue Mirror). The two stars we thought were very aware of the media characters they had created over their career, yet without falling into the artifice of responses to pre-chewed. Very strangely, the universe of THE NEON DEMON appears to be melted in the experience of cannes and hollywood NWR and Elle Fanning. With THE NEON DEMON, Refn is positioned as a fashion designer, imposing his mark with some “happy few” who know how to appreciate it, to distinguish it from the mass. His statements on the future of the cinema together and his last proposal film. And if THE NEON DEMON was an overt narcissist ?

Philppe Guedj : Elle Fanning, Kristen Stewart said at Cannes that she had no idea of what Personal Shoper could speak well. Was this your case as sometimes on THE NEON DEMON ?

Elle Fanning : It’s interesting… sometimes I had the impression to perfectly capture what THE NEON DEMON : this is certainly not a documentary about fashion, it’s more about the obsession with beauty. At the same time, I always looked for ways to understand who was Jesse, my character, and up to the point where it makes me think of the end. It was filmed in a chronological order, its transformation, I lived. I think he has emerged a more shadowy than what we expected at the outset. It was as if Jesse was telling me what to do… Until where I had to bring it.

Thomas Périllon : Is this just turning into a chronological order forced you to tap into your instinct ?

E. F. : Oh yes ! Things often changed, but it could not be otherwise. From my side, I was trying to determine who could be the “neon demon”. I think it is Jesse, but for a long time I thought that it was Los Angeles. It can be an emotion, an object… anything that you see in the film…

Thomas Coispel : Nicolas, what part do you leave it to improvisation in your creative process, is that each image is present in the storyboard or you imagine it on the shelf ?

Nicolas Winding Refn : I don’t storyboard, unless it is about a scene of action or to use a special technique that requires that you be very clear to everyone. The rest of the time, it’s all in the performance of the actors. So we meet in the morning, we talk with Her :”do you want to do it, say it ?” and she can answer “yes this makes sense” or “no I don’t want to.” According I asked him how it wants to move during the scene and everything starts to become a kind of painting with the camera. According to it chooses the colors – even if I am in fact very little sensitive to the nuances (NWR is color blind editor’s note) – on a basic metaphorical. When I find the movement of the actor in the scene, I found how to film it. This forces me to be more instinctive possible : everything is in constant motion. I like this fear, this chaos, this idea that every second everything can turn into a complete disaster. Fear gives you the creativity, forces you to use this instinct primitive. Some people can be paralyzed by this process, some actors may become in their infancy. But with Elle Fanning it was a trip that we have been able to achieve together. This fear force all my employees to submit to the creative process, to marry the tub.

“N. W. a : I like this fear, this chaos, this idea that every second everything can turn into a complete disaster”

P. G. : Elle Fanning, Sharon Stone has said that there was a “before” and “after” Cannes about Basic Instinct. Would you say that there has been a “before” and “after” the projection of THE NEON DEMON to Cannes ?

E. F. : Cannes was very special to me. I have just turned 18 years old and I have dreamed about for a long time. It turns out that the night of the first was also my “prom” (prom night) so I invited my best friend to Cannes for the first. This was a deeply unsettling experience, during the projection of hear an audience react to the film : laughter, coughing, and then… total silence at the end. You wait with anxiety, because we have heard that in the morning the press had at times booed the film, and had at the same time applauded. This waiting to know what’s going to happen, I had never experienced. I was terrified and excited.

P. G. : Is this a star is born ?

N. W. A. : Literally. One of the key moments of the festival is the creation of a star. We rarely have such an opportunity. This was the case with Drive.

T. P. : the end and the beginning of the film appear to be the letters N. W. R as a brand. Think then, to be a fashion designer, such as Yves Saint-Laurent (Y. S. L.). Is it a willingness to sign the film in order to emphasize that it is a product of the ” creator. “

N. W. A. : Yes. Because our films are in the field of ” trademarks. “Our films belong to a future where the “singularity” will be the main strength of the marks. In the future, creativity will be on the Internet. On this territory, there is no control, no need for a critical opinion, because there’s an audience for everything. You can’t control neither the substance nor the content. It is an ocean of possibilities. It is no longer really a question of knowing “what you do” – because this is not only the consequence of the experiences that have shaped – but ” what you resist. “‘We’ are the neon demon. It was very satisfying to approach the film as a mark because it’s about all of it.

T. P. : Some of your critics criticize you about this formalism…

N. W. A. : That is what I give a fuck ? I’m not going to be subject to the opinion of people who like or don’t like. What I have done, it is the only thing that I could do. If some people do not appreciate it, it does not bother me. I’m not going to judge their opinion. I just say : “here’s what I wanted to do. “If this inspires others by admiration or hatred – so much the better. This is the essence of creativity.

T. C. : Before THE NEON DEMON, your movies were the protagonists male very “active” but here you are interested in a woman who suffers. Are you now more interested in the victims than the heroes ? By the tragedies of the ancient than the contemporary dramas ?

N. W. A. : there is no difference between the tragedy is the drama. It is the same thing. I don’t think Jesse (Elle Fanning) to be a victim. Rather, I believe it is the poison.

T. C. : She is the poison to a level that is metaphorical, but as a human being, she suffers from this cannibalization ?

N. W. A. : She suffers or she initiates ?

I felt that it sacrificed on the hotel of the glamour…

N. W. A. : I understand this point of view. But how about you step aside and look at it from another angle. At the beginning, when he was asked ” who took the photos ? “Jesse responds” oh just a type. “Once this” type “really nice, just the look and throws him,” what you’re saying about my photos ? “She’s lying. So do you think that she is truly innocent ? I’m not saying that there is a true or false answer. But this puts things in perspective.


T. C. : Elle Fanning, that have thought of reading what happens at the end of the film ?

E. F. : This is the first time that such a thing happens to me in a movie. I was very excited by the end. As we filmed in the chronological order of the story, the end of the film was also the end of my trip in the company of Jesse. I was just thinking that it had to go one way or another. She had become too aware of itself. It was a natural step in its evolution. Honestly, it may not be part of it, it may be a rebirth, or even an appearance in a parallel universe, another time and space… before coming back as a completely transformed.

T. C. : This is perfect for a more …

N. W. A. : [laughs] oh yes we are working on it…

T. P. : The principal role of your next film, will it be too feminine ?

N. W. A. : I do not yet know the gender of the upcoming principal role. But it is clear that women are more interesting than the men. With Drive I had reached a sort of “peak” in the masculinity fétichisée. There was nowhere else where to go… With Ryan Gosling, we had reached a peak… A large part of Only God forgives, therefore, focused on emasculation, return by crawling to the Mother… to be born again by Elle Fanning !

Interview by Thomas Coispel, Philippe Guedj and Thomas Périllon

NICOLAS WINDING REFN on the Blog of The Film

Nicolas Winding Refn is a filmmaker exciting. To try to capture the essence of his cinema, we are set to 4 (Maxime, Vivien, Georgeslechameau and Paul) to try to break down his filmography. Each writer to be watched all the films, in the order of the output, which allowed the suite to be able to work together to collect the most items. It is then with its own sensibility and its culture, as each one is launched in the drafting of critical, while being able to re-contextualize the films compared to the rest of the filmography, to the whole work.

Results in a folder full, trying to capture the essence of the work of the Danish director and allowing you, hopefully, to better understand the beauty of his cinema.


PUSHER – the trilogy, by Maxime,

BLEEDER, by Georgeslechameau,

FEAR X, by Vivien,



DRIVE by Maxime,

ONLY GOD FORGIVES, by Georgeslechameau, (soon lol)

with a parallel criticism of OGF, MY LIFE DIRECTED BY NICOLAS WINDING REFN by Liv Corfixen

and THE NEON DEMON from its projection in cannes,

Good read !

Click on the poster to view the critical


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