When Nicolas Winding Refn isn’t busy crafting beautiful, violent nightscapes and filling them with Ryan Gosling, he’s a fully paid-up member of the global geek community whose home is a treasure trove of collectibles. “My wife is like, ‘I’m married to a ten year-old!’,” he laughs. Don’t tell Mrs Refn but with Only God Forgives in cinemas, we decided to take him on a tour of Forbidden Planet, a geek haven barely an unobtainium nugget’s throw from Empire HQ. He was charged with walking us through his favourite toys, comics and collectibles in an Aladdin’s cave that’s played a big part in his life. “I grew up in New York,” Refn explains, “and I used to hang out in Forbidden Planet on Broadway and 12th Street. My parents were into Truffaut and Godard, and I was rebelling against them. I’m not sure what I’d have done if they’d been into Jimi Hendrix…”
"Star Trek is probably my favourite TV show ever. William Shatner is the face of Priceline in America, so when they called and asked if I would do a commercial for Priceline, my reaction was: “I would pay to do that commercial just to be next to William Shatner.” When I asked him who came first, God or William Shatner, he took a minute to think about it before saying that he did. The humility was amazing (laughs). When he was done shooting I went into his trailer and had my assistant steal everything that was left behind. I took all his Perrier bottles, his Nespressos and I think I took his pens as well. I’ve said to Ryan (Gosling) that when we finally make our comedy, we cannot do it without William Shatner. Well, they’re both Canadian."
“Christopher Reeve’s Superman was very much part of my childhood. I really, really loved Superman and Superman 2 when I was little. They were just so wonderful and charming and fun and I thought they captured that world extremely well. The way he goes against his father’s wishes in the first one and resets time? That’s fucking dramatic! That’s drama, man. I haven’t seen Man Of Steel but as far as getting rid of the pants is concerned, well, you don’t fuck with the oldies. When it works, don’t break it. Come on, it’s a Superman costume!”
“I loved the original Star Wars – absolutely 100 per cent – and Lego is my favorite toy, so I’m a huge fan of this. And there’s nothing wrong with a grown man playing with Lego. It’s a great creative release.”
"I don’t think anyone has ever beaten Tom Baker. He’s my generation’s Doctor. When I was really down and out I did two episodes of Miss Marple; one was for the money and the other one was because it was with Tom Baker. But then they didn’t want to reshoot anything, so I never got to meet Tom Baker, those motherfuckers. I like the two movies with Peter Cushing, too (Dr. Who And The Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.). He’s extremely charming. Who would I cast as the new Doctor? Tom Burke would be great. He’s an English actor who looks a lot like Joaquin Phoenix."
“These are great! The Walking Dead is a great show. I’d like to do action figures for my movies. You could put your hand inside the stomach of the Only God Forgives action figure. The Drive one would have a hammer.”
“I think J.J. Abrams did a fantastic job with the reboot. He’s terrific. I have a huge amount of respect for him.”
“This Island Earth is one of my favourite sci-fi movies. It’s a science-fiction movie from the ‘50s with these aliens who come to Earth and then return to their dying planet where they build this machine to communicate with other worlds. Along with Forbidden Planet and Invaders From Mars, it’s one of the three great sci-fi movies. Forbidden Planet is up there with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Stalker, because it’s about science, it’s about technology.”
“I used to read comic books more than I do now – a lot of them went into the basement – but the Incal is still my desert island graphic novel. It’s one of those things that you have to read again and again just to understand it. I’ve talked to Alejandro Jodorowsky about doing it as a movie, we’re still talking about it, but right now I’m just focused on Barbarella.”
“I have all the Castle Of Frankensteins, it’s one of my favourites. There used to such a great tradition of alternative movie magazines. This is like a time capsule: you go back in time when you read these magazines. I really miss that retro stuff.”
“I’ve started watching Batman with my youngest, who’s four. The Adam West Batman is great.”
“We watch a lot Miyazaki films at home. In fact, we’ve seen Princess Mononoke about 25 times now because my youngest just wants to see it again and again. I’ve just ordered all the Japanese posters of his films as the kids wanted them around the house. To me, Miyazaki’s work is just pure genius.”
“These books are just based on the characters from the show. Blake's 7 is a great TV show, very clever and well written. I was interested in the rights to it at one point but they were tied up somewhere else. They wanted to make it into a movie and I told them that it was a bad idea, but I’d love to have relaunched it as a television show.”
“Chuck Norris is just the king. Code Of Silence is a really good film.”
“I love everything Gerry Anderson has done, and I recently spent $250 on eBay for a Japanese picture book of all of his creations. I’ve got all my Thunderbirds at home, I love them, but I’m missing the limited-edition Thunderbird 2. Please ask Empire readers to let me know if they have it. I will pay!”
“The Savage Cinema of Ruggero Deodato is so bizarre. It’s a really great book.”
Click an object to read what Nicolas Winding Refn has to say.
Only God Forgives is in cinemas on August 2.
With thanks to Jon Harrison, Toby Millard and the team at Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue.