“They took all my marketing money away because they were afraid that the show would reflect badly on Amazon. They told me that directly,” Refn said to Vulture. “They were so shocked by it. I was like, ‘What’s so shocking?’ They said, ‘It’s going to make us look bad.’ And I said, ‘But I don’t think anyone’s going to look at you at all.'”
Refn continued, “Certain parts of Hollywood are so self-absorbed that they think they’re at the center of the universe. The rule of fear is very dangerous. Amazon released the show, but they said, ‘We will bury you.’ And so they did. However, you can’t bury a diamond.”
The limited series was expanded on from Refn’s 138-minute feature of the same name that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival out of competition. Miles Teller starred as a detective who leads a double life as a hitman in Los Angeles and suffers an existential crisis in the noir series.
Refn told Vulture that the series was a “one-off reaction to the political decay and the rise of the Tea Party movement” in America at the time. The “self-contained” series was always set to just be a limited series on the streamer.
“After 13 hours I had nothing left to say about America. I was drained,” the “Copenhagen Cowboy” director said. “And 13 hours is almost two seasons. Three seasons if you look at television nowadays.”
Lead star Teller previously told IndieWire that each episode was like filming seven independent films back to back.
“Nic lost his mind around episode 7. He refuses to settle for anything that is mediocre,” Teller said. According to the “Top Gun: Maverick” star, Refn also gave the cast and crew hats that read “Making TV Great Again” in reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Refn would email executives at Amazon every week in the vein of Trump.
“He would literally every Friday write an email to the heads of Amazon in his version of a Trump voice,” Teller said. “He would tell them, ‘I’m the greatest director everyone has worked with. Their abilities are growing because of my direction. It’s going great, you’re going to love it. It’s going to be huge, the hugest show for Amazon.'”