The rise and fall of John DeLorean, the automotive kingpin brought down by a cocaine scandal in 1982, is—surprisingly—the basis of one of the more purely entertaining films to screen at TIFF this year. Played for laughs, but with a core seriousness that notes the FBI’s nefarious involvement in DeLorean’s undoing, Nick Hamm’s Driven came straight to Toronto from Venice, where it closed the festival. Stopping by the Deadline studio with cast members Lee Pace (who plays John DeLorean), Judy Greer, Jason Sudeikis and Isabel Arraiza, Hamm explained his decision to tell DeLorean’s story from the point of view of his neighbor, a shady character named Jim Hoffman (played by Sudeikis).
“What fascinated me about that story was [DeLorean] was a man that ultimately had everything,” said Hamm. “He had the lifestyle, the hair, the car, the house, the money … and in this moment of crazy madness he did something [stupid] and gave it all away. That was really what we wanted to see, and we’d tried for ages to try and find a way to tell that particular story. But the biopic version of that wasn’t actually that interesting. And then we found out there was this character called Jim Hoffman, played by Jason, who was an absolute scumbag lowlife, and that character, we thought, was a way into telling the story of DeLorean. So essentially their relationship is a kind of bromance, it’s a sort of weird buddy movie with these two quite dysfunctional men.”
Asked how factually correct the story was, Hamm was adamant that it was about as factually correct as it ever could be. “The great thing you realize about any sort of research on the DeLorean story is that it’s full of lies, that every single portion of it is a level of untruth. Even the court case – certainly elements of that were untrue. I quite like doing stories that have a sort of element of truth in them. [Because] what you’re doing is, you’re looking at history, but you’re also very conscious that you’re making a piece of entertainment.”
For his part, Pace had plenty of resources to watch and read as he delved into the life of DeLorean, who died in 2005. But for Sudeikis and Greer, who plays Hoffman’s wife, there really wasn’t much information to draw on.
“We could do no research,” beamed Greer, “because our characters have been in the witness protection program!”
“And the government,” added Sudeikis, “has done a very good job.”
For more about Driven, click on the video above.