Hossein Amini: how I coped with adapting the book Drive for Hollywood

Taking books from the page to the screen is one of the hardest tasks in cinema. Screenwriters are often overlooked when they adapt a popular book: if the story is good then everyone presumes it’s because the book is good, whereas when it’s bad, it’s the fault of the screenwriter or director.

One of the best exponents of the art is Iranian-born writer Hossein Amini. Throughout his distinguished career, the London-based writer has adapted Thomas Hardy’s Jude, The Obscure, Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove, AEW Mason’s The Four Feathers and Elmore Leonard’s Killshot for the big screen.

This year he surpassed all his previous efforts with a stunning adaptation of James Sallis’s book Drive. The resulting film, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and opening in the UAE today, stars darlings of the moment Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan and wowed the critics when it played in Cannes earlier this year. The success has made the heist thriller one of the most talked about movies of the year, but as Amini revealed during an interview with The National near his home in London, Drive took years to get made.

The story begins several years ago when Universal Studios sent Amini a copy of Sallis’s book to read.

“Normally, the studios tend to send you blockbusters,” says Amini. “They sent me a book that was bleak and dark, it jumps back and forwards in time, it’s not a straight narrative and re… >>>

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