It can seem these days like people only make indie movies for the chance to direct blockbusters. Somebody makes a little Sundance film with a little buzz and suddenly they’re directing the next Jurassic Park or Rocky or Godzilla. Nicolas Winding Refn is one of the few indie filmmakers who has, to date, avoided the temptation to go big. After the cult success of Drive, he had his opportunity to make the jump to the mainstream. And he flirted with some Hollywood projects; for a time, he was attached to the remake of Logan’s Run with Drive star Ryan Gosling. But nothing ever materialized, and Refn continued making stranger and more personal films, with 2013’s Only God Forgives and his latest film, The Neon Demon.

In a new interview promoting The Neon Demon, Refn revealed there was another major blockbuster he could have directed. He told The Telegraph that before Sam Mendes signed on to make Spectre, he was in the running to direct the last James Bond adventure:

Before Sam Mendes agreed to direct the most recent Bond film Spectre, Refn was one of a few filmmakers approached by Eon Productions to take the reins: he doesn’t elaborate, but says he’s now certain franchise work is not for him. “I just know this way I can do whatever I want, and that outweighs any money anyone can give me.”

Instead, Refn will next direct The Avenging Silence, a spy thriller co-written by frequent Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. It sounds like the best of both worlds. We get to see Nicolas Winding Refn’s spy movie, and he’s not beholden to the rules of producers who want to protect a valuable intellectual property.

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