Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1970. He moved with his parents at the age of 10 to New York where he lived out his teenage years before returning to Copenhagen at 17 to finish his gymnasium (high school) education. Upon his graduation, Nicolas swiftly flew back to New York, where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Clearly frustrated with his environment, however, he was soon expelled for throwing a desk against a classroom wall. Consequently, he applied to the Danish Film School and was readily accepted. This education too was to be short-lived, as one month prior to the start of term, Nicolas dropped out. After having a short film aired on an obscure cable TV channel, Nicolas was spotted by a Danish producer who offered him 3.2 million kroners to turn the short into a feature. Aged only 24, Nicolas had written and directed the extremely violent and uncompromising Pusher (1996).
Pusher (1996) became a cult phenomenon and won Nicolas instant international critical acclaim. The success of his debut spurred him to push the boundaries of his creative filmmaking further, resulting in the close-to-the-edge and intricately gritty Bleeder (1999). Highly stylized and focused on introverted reactions to outward situations, this film was a marking point for the shaping of Nicolas’s future career and was selected for the 1999 Venice Film Festival.
Fear X (2003), Nicolas’s third feature and his first in the English language, was eagerly awaited and well-received. Although played to worldwide audiences, the complicated production behind the film led to the dismantling of Nicolas’s production company, NWR Films, and led the young director to bankruptcy.
Financially down and out, Nicolas’s career resurrection came in the form of Kenneth Plummer, CEO of Nordisk Film, who implored Nicolas to pen a follow up to the now cult-classic “Pusher,” something Nicolas flatly refused even though his finances should have dictated that he jump in feet-first. The refusal came on the grounds that if he was to make one follow up then he wanted to make two. In just one year, Nicolas wrote, directed, and produced Pusher II (2004) and Pusher 3 (2005), and the completion of these two films sealed the box and success of the internationally renowned Pusher trilogy.
2006 marked another turning point in Nicolas’s career when he terminated his long-term working relationship with his producing partner, Henrik Danstrup. Upon the split, Nicolas embarked on a solo project called Valhalla Rising (2009), once more undertaking the roles of writer, director and producer.
In 2007, Nicolas was urged to direct an episode of the long running BBC show “Miss Marple.” The episode was titled Marple: Nemesis (2007) (TV) and was an interpretation of the last book in the series that took the character to deeper and darker extremes.
Nicolas undertook a second project during preparation time of “Valhalla Rising,” accepting an offer to write and direct Bronson (2009), an ultra-violent, surreal, and escapist film following the real life landmarks and self-entrapment of Britain’s most notorious criminal, Charles Bronson.
- Valhalla Rising ([])
- Bronson ([])
- Pusher 3 ([])
- Pusher 2 ([])
- Fear X ([])
- Bleeder ([])
- Pusher ([])