From director Nick Hamm and inspired by true events, the indie drama Driven is a wild tale of the bromance gone wrong between John DeLorean (Lee Pace) and Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis). Set in the early 1980s, the story follows how, out of a desire to save the financially troubled DeLorean Motor Company, the golden boy genius of the automotive industry got caught up with an ex-con pilot turned informant, who lured him into a cocaine trafficking ring set up by the FBI.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Jason Sudeikis talked about what he thought of this real-life story, how he decided to portray Jim Hoffman without being able to meet or talk to him, the film’s tricky tone, working with this incredible cast, the odd couple bromance between Jim Hoffman and John DeLorean, and his experience shooting this in Puerto Rico just after Hurricane Maria. He also talked about being a part of Charlie Day’s feature directorial debut El Tonto, and shooting an Apple TV+ series in London.
Collider: This is one of those stories that’s just so crazy that it seems like there’s no way it could be true. When this came your way and you read this script, what was your reaction to it?
JASON SUDEIKIS: I really only had a small understanding and knowledge of it. I’m 43, but I was chin deep in Back to the Future. That was a movie that I had memorized, for many years. My dad clued me in to what the DeLorean was and, even at 10 years old, he gave me a little bit of backstory there, so I had seen the video footage. But for me, I thought it was a fascinating way to tell an interesting story. This whole idea of an unreliable narrator, told from the point of view of this man that no one knows much about and has disappeared off the face of the planet. Whether he’s alive, or whether he’s dead, I don’t know. I have no inside scoop for you. He hasn’t slid into my DMs, at any time. I don’t even know how to access my DMs. Nevertheless, that’s what I loved about it. I thought it was a timely story, with the idea of self-promotion, and not just on the world geo-political scale, but in each of our own lives, with our social media presence, and how we can curate other people’s opinions about us. Sometimes, if you wanna keep up those avatars and those masks that we all wear, it can tear you apart. Hubris is a real son of a gun. So, I thought it was a fascinating way to explore those themes. It was really a very, very clever script that Nick Hamm, the director, explained to me.
Did you ever wish that you could have met or talked to this guy, or are you glad that wasn’t an actual possibility, so that you could develop what you wanted to do on your own?
SUDEIKIS: I would be happy to speak with him. I have not had the opportunity to with Howard Weitzman, who Justin Bartha plays, who was DeLorean’s lawyer, and I’d love to speak with him, someday, about it. I didn’t do much, in regards to research, as far as, how do I sound like this guy? What does he look like? What does he walk like? Because no one knew, it wasn’t important to the story, in my opinion. For me, it was about what was going on inside this guy’s mind, body, and soul versus his vocal chords and his face. So, I insinuated and referred a lot, but that’s a little bit of what the story was doing, anyway. It was a fun way to pick apart this man and this very open-ended story that is John DeLorean.